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.

Examples of etiquette in a Sentence

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 The video has gone viral on social media, and launched a online discussion about seat-saving etiquette. Michael Cappetta, Travel + Leisure, 29 May 2024 With all this etiquette advice and legal gray areas, to pick or not to pick can still feel confusing. Jeanette Marantos, Los Angeles Times, 29 May 2024 My question is this: What is the etiquette surrounding the spouse of the party receiving the money? Harriette Cole, The Mercury News, 23 May 2024 Pay it forward by smiling at your flight attendants, saying hello, or practicing basic etiquette. Kelsey Mulvey, Sunset Magazine, 17 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for etiquette 

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 12 Jun. 2024.

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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