cour·​te·​sy | \ ˈkər-tə-sē How to pronounce courtesy (audio) , British also ˈkȯ-\
plural courtesies

Definition of courtesy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : behavior marked by polished manners or respect for others : courteous behavior
b : a courteous and respectful act or expression
2a : general allowance despite facts : indulgence hills called mountains by courtesy only
b : consideration, cooperation, and generosity in providing something (such 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


cour·​te·​sy | \ ˈkər-tə-sē How to pronounce courtesy (audio) , British also ˈkȯ-\

Definition of courtesy (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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Examples of courtesy in a Sentence


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 Cara, who, courtesy of the cat, had a run in her leggings, picked up the phone in a panic … — Helen Schulman, Wigwag, November 1990 "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 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 They treated us with courtesy and kindness. She did it as a courtesy, not because she had to. Everyone knows each other here, so we won't bother with the usual courtesies. They shook hands and exchanged courtesies before beginning their discussion.


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 Important visitors to the conference were provided with courtesy cars.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Their most recent clash came as Liverpool tried to wrestle the Premier League title from Manchester City in May, Klopp's men earning a 3-2 victory courtesy of newfound hero Divock Origi., "Liverpool vs Newcastle Preview: Where to Watch, Buy Tickets, Live Streams, Kick Off Time & Team News," 11 Sep. 2019 Hors d’oeuvres will be provided courtesy of Fairwinds Ivey Ranch. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Children’s choir sings in Mexico... Make-A-Wish hero ceremony for Poway," 4 Sep. 2019 Needed levity arrives courtesy of Hader, a crucial scene stealer whose Richie always has one foot on the gas pedal out of town but lends gut-wrenching emotion, too. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, "Review: Thought-provoking 'It: Chapter 2' grows up with its horror heroes," 3 Sep. 2019 After their tour of the castle and its grounds, they’ll be welcomed back on board with a glass of champagne, followed by a three-course dinner with wine pairing (courtesy of Belmond’s sommelier). Jennifer M. Wood, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Belmond British Pullman Is Taking ‘Downton Abbey’ Fans from London to Highclere Castle," 26 Aug. 2019 But a greenhouse gets its light, and much of its heat, free, courtesy of the sun. The Economist, "New ways to make vertical farming stack up," 29 Aug. 2019 Villaseñor sees the divisiveness exported from the U.S. via cable news and talk radio courtesy of WIFI. Dallas News, "Americans in Mexico watch uneasily as anti-Mexican rhetoric shows its face in the U.S.," 13 Aug. 2019 The day will feature a pregame catch on the field, player autographs and post game Kids Run the Bases courtesy of Dr. Larry Caldwell. Houston Chronicle, "Fort Bend-area calendar of events," 12 Aug. 2019 Massages will be offered courtesy of Priv masseuses on the 5:30 p.m. train from West Palm Beach to Miami and the 5:40 p.m. train from Miami to West Palm Beach on Aug. 9, 16, 23. Doreen Christensen,, "Relax with a free massage on Brightline to celebrate spa months," 7 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Brayden Caskey followed that with a bloop single to shallow left field to score courtesy runner Thomas Elliot and tie the score at one. Andrew Valenti,, "Dutchtown 3, Northshore 2 (Game 2): Panthers swept after go-ahead hit in 6th inning," 28 Apr. 2018 Photos courtesy of Timeless Travel Trailers Here at Curbed we never tire of looking at Airstreams new and old. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Renovated vintage Airstream is like a chic apartment on wheels," 16 Aug. 2019 During the investigation, a rescue unit accidentally struck a courtesy patrol unit, Reyna said. Dallas News, "Good Samaritan killed in crash on I-30 west of downtown Dallas," 29 July 2019 Canham is also due standard perks for prominent OSU head coaches, such as an automobile through the university’s courtesy car program, membership to Corvallis Country Club and tickets to Oregon State athletic events., "Oregon State baseball coach Mitch Canham signs a five-year, $1.75 million contract," 24 July 2019 Increasing awareness around women’s health and hygiene, courtesy government initiatives and Bollywood movies like the Akshay Kumar-starrer PadMan, has given a boost to sales in smaller towns. Sangeeta Tanwar, Quartz India, "Online shopping is redefining how small-town Indian women deal with their periods," 30 June 2019 You're used to hotels and courtesy cars and a certain sort of life on the road. Jon Wertheim,, "What Makes Wimbledon 2019 Such a Unique Grand Slam? | Beyond the Baseline Podcast," 28 June 2019 Lilly Davis gave Male its first hit with one out in the fourth inning, and courtesy runner Jacklyn Zuege stole second and third. Jason Frakes, The Courier-Journal, "Male softball team survives scare against Clay County, advances to state final," 15 June 2019 Aaron Young, Kitchen’s courtesy runner, eventually scored the winner on an error. Paul Johnson, Elgin Courier-News, "'It's heartbreaking because I love this team': Egon Hein helps St. Charles North finish second in Class 4A," 10 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'courtesy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of courtesy


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1613, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for courtesy

Noun and Adjective

Middle English corteisie, from Anglo-French curteisie, from curteis — see courteous

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Statistics for courtesy

Last Updated

18 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for courtesy

The first known use of courtesy was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for courtesy



English Language Learners Definition of courtesy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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



English Language Learners Definition of courtesy (Entry 2 of 2)

: done in order to be polite
: provided for free


cour·​te·​sy | \ ˈkər-tə-sē How to pronounce courtesy (audio) \
plural courtesies

Kids Definition of courtesy

1 : the quality or state of being respectful and considerate of others
2 : a polite or generous act or expression Hot meals were served through the courtesy of volunteers.
3 : something that is a favor and not a right Transportation is provided as a courtesy of the hotel.

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More from Merriam-Webster on courtesy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for courtesy

Spanish Central: Translation of courtesy

Nglish: Translation of courtesy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of courtesy for Arabic Speakers

Comments on courtesy

What made you want to look up courtesy? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


concealment of treason or felony

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