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

Keep scrolling for more

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 Those who warned that California’s anti-labor Proposition 22 would hasten the destruction of good jobs and the rise of gig work have a new data point to cite, courtesy of the Albertsons grocery empire. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Column: In wake of Prop. 22, Albertsons is converting its home delivery to gig work," 5 Jan. 2021 January 22 Spice up your selfies with the cutest eye patches, courtesy of Millie Bobby Brown's line Florence by Mills. Bella Cacciatore, Glamour, "Ulta Sale 2021: The Best 50% Off Deals From the Love Your Skin Event," 5 Jan. 2021 Growing up in the world of style courtesy of her mother started the now 22-year-old Kit on a similar path. Martha Sorren,, "Kit Keenan Doesn’t Need The Bachelor To Raise Her Profile. Like, At All.," 5 Jan. 2021 Coulibaly came to Louisiana in 2001 on a J1 work visa courtesy of CODOFIL, the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana. Katy Reckdahl,, "This Louisiana teacher of 19 years is locked up now and facing deportation," 3 Jan. 2021 And beyond then, customers will get a one-month courtesy waiver of fees for going over the data threshold. Ben Leonard,, "Comcast’s Xfinity to add fees for customers not on an unlimited data plan starting in January," 31 Dec. 2020 With winter weather here, the courtesy dock at the Emerald Necklace Marina on the Rocky River was removed this week. cleveland, "Ice just forming, and it’s not safe yet: NE Ohio fishing report for weekend of Jan. 1-3, 2021," 31 Dec. 2020 The simple craft, courtesy of the Hallmark Channel, should take under an hour to assemble. Purbita Saha, Popular Science, "Make your own New Year’s ball, and 4 other family party ideas," 31 Dec. 2020 This comes from the General Social Survey and the American National Election Survey, courtesy of Kevin Vallier, author of a new book, Trust in a Polarized Age. Dave Lieber, Dallas News, "If aliens arrive and study our consumer culture, they’d see a troubled society swamped in scams," 30 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The officer gave him a courtesy ride to his father’s house on Station Road. cleveland, "Police help drivers locked out of their cars: Olmsted Falls Police Blotter," 30 Dec. 2020 This identification is courtesy of Neil Bell, Oregon State Extension horticulturist. oregonlive, "Need help hiding new neighbor’s big concrete wall? Ask an expert," 27 Dec. 2020 The tiny knit Jordans are courtesy of podcast host Olivia Perez and Alex Nachum. Elizabeth Logan, Glamour, "Gigi Hadid And Zayn Malik's Daughter Already Wears Gucci," 26 Dec. 2020 Murphy was working as a courtesy officer for the apartment complex when the shooting occurred. Tandra Smith |, al, "Prichard police officer charged with murder fired, faces excessive force lawsuit," 23 Dec. 2020 Officers explained the reason they were stopped and gave them a courtesy ride to work. cleveland, "Woman says requirement to wear shoes violates her civil rights: Mayfield Heights Police Blotter," 18 Dec. 2020 The city will provide a courtesy notice to property and vehicle owners and give them time to correct the issue before issuing tickets, Martinez said. Sarah Bahari, Dallas News, "Parking your RV or boat on the street? Move it or get a ticket under new Mesquite ordinance," 17 Dec. 2020 All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation and Nationwide. Omar Kelly,, "Byron Jones named Dolphins’ Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee," 10 Dec. 2020 All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation and Nationwide. cleveland, "Myles Garrett named the Browns 2020 Walter Payton Man of the Year," 10 Dec. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about courtesy

Time Traveler for courtesy

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for courtesy

Last Updated

13 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Courtesy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!