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court·​ly ˈkȯrt-lē How to pronounce courtly (audio)
courtlier; courtliest
: of a quality befitting the court : elegant
: insincerely flattering
: favoring the policy or party of the court
courtliness noun


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: in a courtly manner : politely

Example Sentences

Adjective his courtly manners made him a favorite escort of widowed socialites
Recent Examples on the Web
Some scholars have suggested that her lack of courtly experience may have been a factor when, in 1761, England's King George III selected her to be his bride. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, 6 May 2023 The Bridgerton universe has, famously, opened up the racial bounds of traditional period pieces in order to allow greater diversity into its world of courtly intrigue and romance. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, 6 May 2023 One woman’s courtly voice, accompanied only by her soft fingerpicking on acoustic guitar. James Sullivan,, 27 Apr. 2023 The God of Love abandons courtly sentiments in favor of belligerent rants. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 6 Mar. 2023 The quartet took a stately tempo in the minuet, emphasizing its courtly associations. Tim Diovanni, Dallas News, 27 Apr. 2021 Dinkins, meanwhile, was known for his courtly manner, dapper dress, and meticulous grammar and speaking style, which represented a refreshing change for many New Yorkers. Tina Susman, Los Angeles Times, 23 Nov. 2020 Ballad’s third-person past fits Coriolanus’ intellectual courtly existence, all fake smiles and knowing banter with addled professors. Darren Franich,, 19 May 2020 Early last month, at a Mexican restaurant in Seattle, the first United States hot spot of the coronavirus outbreak, Mr. Hayes worked around the no-handshaking protocol with a good-natured, mock-courtly bow. John Schwartz, New York Times, 20 Apr. 2020
Against this backdrop of widespread unrest, Elizabeth (played by Alicia von Rittberg), Edward (Oliver Zetterström) and their half-sister Mary (Romola Garai) navigated courtly intrigue and the power players who sought to pit the half-siblings against each other. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, 9 June 2022 Silk bolero jackets opened the display that riffed on the 1980s, with lozenges appearing throughout — first as a 3D relief on jackets and, most dramatically, on a blown-up courtly ruff. Thomas Adamson, ajc, 24 Jan. 2023 And Poe, born in Boston but, thanks to his Virginia upbringing, speaking with a soft, Southern lilt, is far too courtly to fit in with his coarse classmates. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, 23 Dec. 2022 His crisp articulation and courtly poise didn’t scream radical. Steven Litt, cleveland, 23 Dec. 2022 In this story line, Grant’s foil was always the courtly gentleman, Robert E. Lee. Anne Marshall, The Conversation, 5 Dec. 2022 The minuet, taken in one beat per measure, sounded alternately earthy and courtly. Dallas News, 25 Mar. 2022 Early Disney cartoons featured animated porcelain figurines, complete with 18th-century dress, wigs and courtly manners. Washington Post, 6 Jan. 2022 This courtly neo-Classical edifice, located near where Charoen Krung bends into Chinatown, has lived many lives. Chris Schalkx, New York Times, 4 Nov. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'courtly.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


circa 1592, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of courtly was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near courtly

Cite this Entry

“Courtly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


: suitable to a royal court : elegant
courtly manners
courtliness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on courtly

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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