cour·​te·​ous ˈkər-tē-əs How to pronounce courteous (audio)
 British also  ˈkȯ-
: marked by polished manners, gallantry, or ceremonial usage of a court
: marked by respect for and consideration of others
courteously adverb
courteousness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for courteous

civil, polite, courteous, gallant, chivalrous mean observant of the forms required by good breeding.

civil often suggests little more than the avoidance of overt rudeness.

owed the questioner a civil reply

polite commonly implies polish of speech and manners and sometimes suggests an absence of cordiality.

if you can't be pleasant, at least be polite

courteous implies more actively considerate or dignified politeness.

clerks who were unfailingly courteous to customers

gallant and chivalrous imply courteous attentiveness especially to women.

gallant suggests spirited and dashing behavior and ornate expressions of courtesy.

a gallant suitor of the old school

chivalrous suggests high-minded and self-sacrificing behavior.

a chivalrous display of duty

Examples of courteous in a Sentence

There was no doubt that his stubbornly held and trenchantly expressed views—his trenchancy always tempered, however, by his gently courteous manner—contributed significantly to his unpopularity … Simon Winchester, The Man Who Loved China, 2008
… she has seen generations of boys come and go, some well groomed and courteous, others rough and uppity … Julian Barnes, New Yorker, 5 Mar. 1990
He joined us in the Yellow Room with … his son, a thoughtful, courteous, nice doctor … Lady Bird Johnson 27 May 1964, in A White House Diary1970
The clerks were helpful and courteous. their customer service department always gives courteous responses, even to rude people
Recent Examples on the Web According to Fairfax County Public Schools policy, the board has extensive authority to alter the name of a school or building to foster an inclusive or courteous environment. Melissa Noel, Essence, 13 Nov. 2023 What’s a critic to do in the face of such a courteous entreaty? Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 23 Sep. 2023 Trump has been fairly courteous to other opponents who have been reluctant to criticize him, a group that includes former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and current South Carolina U.S. Sen. Tim Scott. David Jackson, USA TODAY, 3 June 2023 So please: Stay on topic Use respectful language Be courteous Don't attack Be responsible Please review our posting rules in our terms of service HERE. Janet B. Carson, Arkansas Online, 16 Sep. 2023 In the end, Utah was ranked with the 12th-most courteous drivers overall. Andy Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune, 12 Aug. 2023 Remain courteous, and try to push your rates down a bit, but don't expect a massive reduction in the overall price. Jim Slavik, Car and Driver, 21 June 2023 The fact is that an event that must be shut down because the speaker cannot be heard, or because campus police cannot control an aggressive crowd of protesters, is far more useful to a national conservative organization than one that is peaceful, courteous, and civil. Claire Potter, The New Republic, 28 June 2023 With courteous dispatchers ready for your call around the clock, a fire watch guard can typically be at your location in under four hours. Jon Stojan, Detroit Free Press, 21 June 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'courteous.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English corteis, from Anglo-French curteis, from curt

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of courteous was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near courteous

Cite this Entry

“Courteous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


cour·​te·​ous ˈkərt-ē-əs How to pronounce courteous (audio)
: marked by good manners suitable to a court
: marked by respect for and consideration of others
courteously adverb
courteousness noun

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