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adjective deb·o·nair \ˌde-bə-ˈner\

Simple Definition of debonair

  • of a man : dressing and acting in an appealing and sophisticated way : fashionable, attractive, and confident

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of debonair

  1. 1 archaic :  gentle, courteous

  2. 2 a :  suave, urbane <a debonair performer> b :  lighthearted, nonchalant

debonairly adverb
debonairness noun

Examples of debonair in a sentence

  1. Their history, past and recent, may be scribbled with viciousness and deprivation, but the debonair politeness, the good humor, of the Irish I met, who are still among the poorest people in the West, gave me to believe that calamity breeds character. —G. Y. Dryansky, Condé Nast Traveler, November 1994

  2. Cary Grant is the center of the action and, at this pivotal point in his career, he is suspended between the heroic and the debonair. —Andrew Sarris, Video Review, September 1990

  3. Wyndham Lewis arrived for a stay in Paris and he was a different man from the Lewis of London. He was free and easy and debonair. —Robert McAlmon et al., Being Geniuses Together, (1938) 1968

  4. a debonair man in a suit and top hat

  5. <his debonair dismissal of my inquiry concerning his financial situation led me to believe that nothing was wrong>

Did You Know?

In Anglo-French, someone who was genteel and well-brought-up was described as "deboneire" - literally "of good family or nature" (from three words: "de bon aire"). When the word was borrowed into English in the 13th century, it basically meant "courteous," a narrow sense now pretty much obsolete. Today's "debonair" incorporates charm, polish, and worldliness, often combined with a carefree attitude (think James Bond). And yes, we tend to use this sense mostly, though not exclusively, of men. In the 19th century, we took the "carefree" part and made it a sense all its own. "The crowd that throngs the wharf as the steamer draws alongside is gay and debonair; it is a noisy, cheerful, gesticulating crowd," wrote Somerset Maugham in 1919 in his novel The Moon and Sixpence.

Origin of debonair

Middle English debonere, from Anglo-French deboneire, from de bon aire of good family or nature

First Known Use: 13th century

DEBONAIR Defined for Kids


adjective deb·o·nair \ˌde-bə-ˈner\

Definition of debonair for Students

  1. :  gracefully charming <The debonair gentleman charmed everyone.>

Seen and Heard

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tending to dismiss important matters

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