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noun cour·te·sy \ˈkər-tə-sē, British also ˈkȯr-\

Simple Definition of courtesy

  • : polite behavior that shows respect for other people

  • : something that you do because it is polite, kind, etc.

  • : something that you say to be polite especially when you meet someone

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of courtesy



  1. 1 a :  behavior marked by polished manners or respect for others :  courteous behavior b :  a courteous and respectful act or expression

  2. 2 a :  general allowance despite facts :  indulgence <hills called mountains by courtesy only> b :  consideration, cooperation, and generosity in providing something (as a gift or privilege); also :  agency, means —used chiefly in the phrases through the courtesy of or by courtesy of or sometimes simply courtesy of

Examples of courtesy in a sentence

  1. Civilized life cannot be sustained without hypocrisy. A certain moral code, a degree of courtesy and decorum, are necessary to keep our instincts under a modicum of control. —Ian Buruma, New York Review of Books, 2 Nov. 2006

  2. Cara, who, courtesy of the cat, had a run in her leggings, picked up the phone in a panic … —Helen Schulman, Wigwag, November 1990

  3. “Coffee, sir?” asked a sailor. I nodded, still chilled. The courtesy, the ordinariness of these men was in the context somehow curious. —Fred Reed, Harper's, September 1988

  4. I tried to persuade him that all that Hamish Hamilton had attempted to do was to extend the kind of courtesies which cultural institutions thought to be his due. —Isaiah Berlin, New York Times Book Review, 12 Apr. 1987

  5. They treated us with courtesy and kindness.

  6. She did it as a courtesy, not because she had to.

  7. Everyone knows each other here, so we won't bother with the usual courtesies.

  8. They shook hands and exchanged courtesies before beginning their discussion.

Origin and Etymology of courtesy

Middle English corteisie, from Anglo-French curteisie, from curteis

First Known Use: 13th century



adjective cour·te·sy \ˈkər-tə-sē, British also ˈkȯr-\

Simple Definition of courtesy

  • : done in order to be polite

  • : provided for free

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of courtesy

  1. :  granted, provided, or performed as a courtesy or by way of courtesy (see 1courtesy) <made a courtesy call on the ambassador>

Examples of courtesy in a sentence

  1. As the heir to an earldom, Stephen was obliged to pay a courtesy call on the British ambassador … —Ken Follett, The Man from St. Petersburg, 1982

  2. Important visitors to the conference were provided with courtesy cars.

Origin and Etymology of courtesy

(see 1courtesy)

First Known Use: 1613

COURTESY Defined for Kids


noun cour·te·sy \ˈkər-tə-sē\

Definition of courtesy for Students



  1. 1 :  the quality or state of being respectful and considerate of others

  2. 2 :  a polite or generous act or expression <Hot meals were served through the courtesy of volunteers.>

  3. 3 :  something that is a favor and not a right <Transportation is provided as a courtesy of the hotel.>

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