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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

Examples of courtly in a Sentence

Adjective his courtly manners made him a favorite escort of widowed socialites
Recent Examples on the Web
During two decades in Congress, from 1981 to 2001, Mr. Bliley built an image as an old-style presence, sporting his trademark bow ties, displaying courtly manners and seeking ways to work with Democrats. Brian Murphy, Washington Post, 18 Nov. 2023 Melgar described Butler’s personality as a departure from Feinstein’s formal and courtly demeanor. Benjamin Oreskes, Los Angeles Times, 13 Oct. 2023 The dancers wear courtly Baroque attire (by Sam Ratelle). Brian Seibert, New York Times, 4 June 2023 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
For more than three decades, as Star Trek’s Jean-Luc Picard and the X-Men’s Charles Xavier, Stewart has embodied a sort of kind and courtly Master of the Universe, trusted by all to wield awesome power exclusively for good. WIRED, 3 Oct. 2023 Lopez, a slight, courtly sixty-one-year-old who wears a porkpie hat and walks with a cane, relayed his story to Minogue. Jennifer Egan, The New Yorker, 11 Sep. 2023 Today a tall, courtly Southern gentleman with high cheekbones and a delicate frame, Oliver is known for building the National Tick Museum, perhaps the most extensive tick collection and library in the world. Wendy Orent, Discover Magazine, 11 Dec. 2013 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 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 11 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


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

More from Merriam-Webster on courtly

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