cour·​te·​sy | \ ˈkər-tə-sē, 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, 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

Cut to: the next day at school, when a copy of the rulebook has been left in every single student’s locker courtesy of Ethel. Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "The 6 Craziest Things That Happened On Riverdale Tonight," 25 Oct. 2018 The event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free for the first 100 visitors courtesy of a grant from the city. Courant Community, "'Meet the Chefs' In Bristol on Saturday," 7 June 2018 Maddie Ziegler's 16th-birthday dreams came true this weekend, courtesy of her good friend Sia, who showed up to the party with an extravagant gift: a brand-new car! Zoë Weiner, Teen Vogue, "Sia Gave Maddie Ziegler a Car for Her 16th Birthday," 1 Oct. 2018 His sales skyrocket and soon he's promoted to Power Caller, the title given to a mysterious group of people who work upstairs (courtesy of a golden elevator that has a security code about 100 digits long). Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "Why you need to see surreal 'Sorry to Bother You'," 12 July 2018 Kevin Owens’s fall off the ladder, courtesy of Braun Strowman, looked extremely painful. Justin Barrasso,, "The Key Takeaways From WWE's Money in the Bank," 18 June 2018 However, that hasn't prevented her in the past from taking an inside look into some of the stranger trends out there (like, manicures featuring faces and hair courtesy of makeup artist Dain Yoon)., "Ellen DeGeneres Is Going On Tour For The First Time In 15 Years," 14 June 2018 Both sisters rocked dreamy, cream off-the-shoulder ensembles and had their hair parted right down the middle: Kim's dress last year, courtesy of Vivienne Westwood, was also unexpectedly simplistic for the Comme des Garçons-themed occasion. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kendall Jenner Channels Kim Kardashian in an All-White Met Gala Look," 8 May 2018 All photos courtesy of Carado Peruse any camper forum—or Facebook group—and you’ll notice a common lament: Why does Europe get all of the innovative campers? Megan Barber, Curbed, "Compact camper van fits a bathroom, sleeps two," 27 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Photos courtesy Ori Earlier this year, the MIT offshoot Ori launched an all-in-one robotic furniture system that made tiny apartments feel a little less tiny. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Ori’s new robotic furniture includes a bed that drops from the ceiling," 14 Nov. 2018 Photos courtesy of Caravan Outfitter The allure of #VanLife is strong, from the nomadic lifestyle to the ability to camp wherever, whenever. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Modular camper van sleeps two and hauls gear, asks $37K," 22 Oct. 2018 The residents of Camp Shinnecock could hop in their courtesy cars and reach the players’ parking lot in 30 seconds. Karen Crouse, New York Times, "By Land or by Sea, U.S. Open Golfers Got Creative About Their Lodging," 16 June 2018 Ehling missed the tag and Gulley got back safely, while courtesy runner Casey Greene stayed at third, and the bases were loaded. James Weber,, "Highlands baseball, Drew Rom hold off McCracken in state baseball semifinals," 16 June 2018 The Dragons extended their lead to 4-0 in the second with an RBI double from Cade Bell that scored courtesy runner Jaxon Osterberg. Brian Gosset, star-telegram, "Warden, Southlake Carroll dominate to win 6A state title," 9 June 2018 Loaded: 0% Progress: 0% 0:00 / 0:42 Watch killer footage of killer whales off coast of Monterey Advertisement Killer whales swim off the Monterey coast in May 2018 in this video courtesy Monterey Bay Whale Watch . Don Sweeney, sacbee, "Watch 1,500 dolphins frolic with baby humpback whale off California in aerial video," 3 June 2018 Watson then hit his triple that allowed Sunseri and Stephen Perry, a courtesy runner, to score. Justin Maskulinski, Houston Chronicle, "The Woodlands takes down Round Rock, advances to state tourney," 1 June 2018 Photos courtesy of Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty A crisp Donald Wexler midcentury modern is up for sale in that sunny California enclave of Palm Springs. Lauren Ro, Curbed, "Nab this Donald Wexler midcentury pad in Palm Springs for $725K," 29 May 2018

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

9 Jan 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 \
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

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