et·​i·​quette ˈe-ti-kət How to pronounce etiquette (audio)
: the conduct or procedure required by good breeding or prescribed by authority to be observed in social or official life

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If you’re looking for a polite topic of conversation to raise at your next gathering of word lovers, we’ve got just the ticket. The French word étiquette means “ticket”; its direct French ancestor also referred to a label attached to something for description or identification. Spaniards of the 16th-century adopted the French word (altering it to etiqueta), and used it to refer to the written protocols describing the behavior demanded of those who appeared at court. Eventually, etiqueta came to be applied to the court ceremonies themselves as well as to the documents which outlined their requirements. Word of this linguistic development got back to the French, who then expanded their word’s meaning to include “proper court behavior” along with its “label” sense. By the middle of the 18th century English speakers had taken on etiquette as their own, applying it to the rules that indicate the proper and polite way to behave, whether in the presence or royalty or not.

Example Sentences

Her failure to respond to the invitation was a serious breach of etiquette. the couple exhibited poor etiquette when they left the party without saying good-bye to the host and hostess
Recent Examples on the Web But her studies of ego and frailty are closer to Albert Brooks and Larry David: about breaches of etiquette rather then psychological breaks. Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times, 26 May 2023 Per royal etiquette, the tiara can only be worn on evenings after 5 p.m—barring on wedding days—and is loaned to a royal for a lifetime; that royal is granted exclusive access to one or several tiaras that the monarch of the moment decides on. Harper's BAZAAR, 3 May 2023 And, of course, did their tardiness go against Met Gala etiquette? Michelle Lee, Peoplemag, 2 May 2023 In England, meanwhile, mixologist Erik Lorincz who consulted on recipes and bartending etiquette for Skyfall will teach you how to recreate Martinis seen on film from vintage ingredients. Demetrius Simms, Robb Report, 31 Mar. 2023 Experts at the Paltrow trial have argued that the National Ski Areas Association's more than 60-year-old code is ubiquitous, with similar etiquette in Canada, Australia and parts of Europe. Sam Metz And Christopher Weber, ajc, 29 Mar. 2023 Myka Meier, an etiquette consultant and wedding conduct guru, believes that gate or no gate, vows assisted by A.I. may be a technological bridge too far. Tammy Lagorce, New York Times, 3 Mar. 2023 Kohrs won’t win any prizes for grand jury foreperson etiquette. Norm Eisen & Fred Wertheimer, CNN, 23 Feb. 2023 Kim Petras has responded to criticism that her concert etiquette is something unholy. Vulture, 25 Nov. 2022 See More

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

Word History


French étiquette, literally, ticket — more at ticket entry 1

First Known Use

1737, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of etiquette was in 1737


Dictionary Entries Near etiquette

Cite this Entry

“Etiquette.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


et·​i·​quette ˈet-i-kət How to pronounce etiquette (audio)
: the rules governing the proper way to behave

from French étiquette "etiquette," literally, "ticket," from earlier etiquet "ticket" — related to ticket

More from Merriam-Webster on etiquette

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