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

Noun 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. Adjective 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 Sabres at Oilers: Odds, picks and betting tips Odds courtesy of BetMGM; access them at USA TODAY Sports for a full set of today’s betting odds. Joe Williams, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Buffalo Sabres at Edmonton Oilers odds, picks and best bets," 8 Dec. 2019 Streamers and similar influencers often air out intensely personal developments online, both as a courtesy to their audience and to maintain their authentic image. Washington Post, "Ninja and Shroud went to Mixer. Dr Disrespect is heading to TV.," 6 Dec. 2019 Valencia didn’t receive security until earlier this year but her office objected to losing the detail as well, which the mayor’s office said had been given to her as a courtesy. Gregory Pratt,, "Chicago Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin hired private security using taxpayer funds after CPD found there was no threat. She disagreed, saying people call her ‘the money lady.’," 25 Nov. 2019 However, if the visit coincided with a person exiting the building, often the doors would be held open as a courtesy. Joseph O’neill, The New Yorker, "The Flier," 4 Nov. 2019 Check out the lyrics in full, courtesy of Genius, and decide for yourself whether Gomez is talking about her relationship with Bieber or not. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Selena Gomez Drops Another New Song and Fans Think It's About Justin Bieber," 24 Oct. 2019 When it was planned last winter and spring, ICE was releasing 200 or more asylum seekers a day in Phoenix, often dropping them outside the Greyhound bus station (as a courtesy and at their request, ICE said). Bob Ortega, CNN, "With asylum seekers blocked from reaching safe haven in US, volunteers take help south to them," 22 Oct. 2019 Its haunting sound, courtesy of indie-rock savant Jack Antonoff (of the bands Bleachers and Fun) and EDM producer Skrillex. Wired, "The 7 Must-Listen Songs for Autumn," 15 Oct. 2019 Examples: Michelle Williams in Louis Vuitton with soft pinks on eyes, cheeks and lips (courtesy of pro Angela Levin using Chantecaille makeup). Meg Hemphill, The Hollywood Reporter, "Emmys: 4 Best Beauty Trends From Zendaya's Bombshell Waves to Sophie Turner's Monochrome Makeup," 23 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Also, customers who had readings that were too high wouldn't necessarily have been hit with overage fees because the readings might still have been under the 1TB cap, and Comcast allows two courtesy months before billing for overages. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "Comcast incorrectly charged 2,000 customers for exceeding data cap," 9 Oct. 2019 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

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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Time Traveler for courtesy

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for courtesy

Last Updated

11 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Courtesy.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 11 December 2019.

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More Definitions for courtesy


How to pronounce courtesy (audio)

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


How to pronounce courtesy (audio)

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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Comments on courtesy

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heavy with or as if with moisture

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