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

As a country that’s paid its dues, so to speak, on the American alliance, we have been treated with courtesy and respect. Tony Abbott, WSJ, "An Ally Sizes Up Donald Trump," 13 July 2018 McIntyre is one of WWE’s beacons of light, with a tremendously bright future courtesy of his size, intelligence, in-ring work, and overall look. Justin Barrasso,, "The Week in Wrestling: Tama Tonga Says Bullet Club Civil War ‘Has Been a Long Time Coming’," 11 July 2018 Here are some highlights, with official descriptions courtesy of the folks at Comic-Con. Phillip Molnar,, "Comic Con 2018: Here's your Sunday schedule," 8 July 2018 The men in red and yellow then added to this tournament’s extra-time craziness with a stunning go-ahead goal courtesy of Nacer Chadli. Owen Pence,, "The World Cup is getting hot. If you haven’t been watching, this will catch you up," 6 July 2018 The arts organization closes its inaugural season, devoted to the East Village, with a kiki ball courtesy of Alliance for Positive Change, which opened in 1993 as the AIDS Service Center NYC in the same building as Performance Space 122. New York Times, "7 Dance Performances to See in N.Y.C. This Weekend," 28 June 2018 Yet for the July issue, the American beauty took the plunge into buttery blonde territory—courtesy of celebrity hairstylist and color expert, Chris Appleton, who left the beach-y texture to fall past her shoulders. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "Ariana Grande Just Got a Dramatic New Makeover—And She’s Practically Unrecognizable," 4 June 2018 This product is brought to us courtesy of Hasbro teaming up with Harmonix, the studio behind the massive hit Rock Band. Charlie Theel, Ars Technica, "DropMix review: Unleash your inner DJ," 26 May 2018 The Big Red rank third in the country in scoring courtesy of a career year from Teat, who leads the nation in assists with 60 and ranks second in points with 97. Edward Lee,, "NCAA Division I tournament quarterfinal preview: Cornell vs. Maryland," 19 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

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 But a courtesy runner was caught in a rundown for an out after a grounder to third. Michael Osipoff, Post-Tribune, "Towle in tow: Junior slugger Jenna Towle's two-run double sparks Lake Central past Lowell in sectional," 23 May 2018 Catcher Desi Gomez blooped a single to right field and was replaced by courtesy runner Carly Oldfield, who was plated by a base hit to center field by third baseman Bene Snyder. Jeff Tully,, "Four-run first too much for Burbank softball to overcome in playoff loss," 16 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


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


see courtesy entry 1

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Learn More about courtesy

Phrases Related to courtesy

common courtesy

courtesy call

courtesy phone

Statistics for courtesy

Last Updated

18 Sep 2018

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

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).


alleviating pain or harshness

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