adjective deb·o·nair \ ˌde-bə-ˈner \

Definition of debonair

1 a : suave, urbane
  • a debonair performer
2 archaic : gentle, courteous





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Examples of debonair in a Sentence

  1. Their history, past and recent, may be scribbled with viciousness and deprivation, but the debonair politeness, the good humor, of the Irish I met, who are still among the poorest people in the West, gave me to believe that calamity breeds character. —G. Y. DryanskyCondé Nast TravelerNovember 1994
  2. Cary Grant is the center of the action and, at this pivotal point in his career, he is suspended between the heroic and the debonair. —Andrew SarrisVideo ReviewSeptember 1990
  3. Wyndham Lewis arrived for a stay in Paris and he was a different man from the Lewis of London. He was free and easy and debonair. —Robert McAlmon et al.Being Geniuses Together(1938) 1968
  4. a debonair man in a suit and top hat

  5. his debonair dismissal of my inquiry concerning his financial situation led me to believe that nothing was wrong

Recent Examples of debonair from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'debonair.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

In Anglo-French, someone who was genteel and well-brought-up was described as "deboneire" - literally "of good family or nature" (from three words: "de bon aire"). When the word was borrowed into English in the 13th century, it basically meant "courteous," a narrow sense now pretty much obsolete. Today's "debonair" incorporates charm, polish, and worldliness, often combined with a carefree attitude (think James Bond). And yes, we tend to use this sense mostly, though not exclusively, of men. In the 19th century, we took the "carefree" part and made it a sense all its own. "The crowd that throngs the wharf as the steamer draws alongside is gay and debonair; it is a noisy, cheerful, gesticulating crowd," wrote Somerset Maugham in 1919 in his novel The Moon and Sixpence.

Origin and Etymology of debonair

Middle English debonere, from Anglo-French deboneire, from de bon aire of good family or nature

DEBONAIR Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of debonair for English Language Learners

  • of a man : dressing and acting in an appealing and sophisticated way : fashionable, attractive, and confident

DEBONAIR Defined for Kids


adjective deb·o·nair \ ˌde-bə-ˈner \

Definition of debonair for Students

: gracefully charming
  • The debonair gentleman charmed everyone.

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fullness to the point of excess

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