polite

adjective

po·​lite pə-ˈlīt How to pronounce polite (audio)
politer; politest
1
a
: of, relating to, or having the characteristics of advanced culture
b
: marked by refined cultural interests and pursuits especially in arts and belles lettres
2
a
: showing or characterized by correct social usage
b
: marked by an appearance of consideration, tact, deference, or courtesy
c
: marked by a lack of roughness or crudities
polite literature
politely adverb
politeness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for polite

civil, polite, courteous, gallant, chivalrous mean observant of the forms required by good breeding.

civil often suggests little more than the avoidance of overt rudeness.

owed the questioner a civil reply

polite commonly implies polish of speech and manners and sometimes suggests an absence of cordiality.

if you can't be pleasant, at least be polite

courteous implies more actively considerate or dignified politeness.

clerks who were unfailingly courteous to customers

gallant and chivalrous imply courteous attentiveness especially to women.

gallant suggests spirited and dashing behavior and ornate expressions of courtesy.

a gallant suitor of the old school

chivalrous suggests high-minded and self-sacrificing behavior.

a chivalrous display of duty

Examples of polite in a Sentence

It was polite of him to hold the door for them. Please be polite to the guests. It isn't polite to interrupt people when they're talking. She received some polite applause despite the mistakes in her performance.
Recent Examples on the Web Those who made it to their seats or standing room areas in time for the openers’ dozen-song set – mostly pulled from Last Splash, which the band did a 30th-anniversary tour for last year – were polite and respectful, but hardly visceral or effusive in response. Andrew Unterberger, Billboard, 9 Apr. 2024 The vibe enabling these reintegrations into polite company is less prosocial than indifferent. Lili Loofbourow, Washington Post, 8 Apr. 2024 Talking one-to-one with a stranger, Springsteen is polite but withdrawn, a slim 26-year-old with a sparse beard and a huge gold hoop through one ear, clasping his hands together and staring at the floor. Christine Brown, Detroit Free Press, 30 Mar. 2024 Tim Henman barely raised a fist in anger in his polite passion. Tim Ellis, Forbes, 28 Mar. 2024 During the 1960s, Jerome experienced a counterculture renaissance, a polite way of saying hippies moved in. Roger Naylor, The Arizona Republic, 22 Mar. 2024 Should something like this happen in the future, what is a polite but FIRM way to disengage a chatty stranger, short of simply putting in my earbuds and ignoring him or her? Judith Martin, The Mercury News, 28 Mar. 2024 Demarco is thoughtful, patient, polite, and helpful. Joe Mutascio, The Indianapolis Star, 18 Mar. 2024 Terry Dear Terry: That phrase seems both opaque and polite. Amy Dickinson, Detroit Free Press, 1 Mar. 2024

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

Word History

Etymology

Middle English (Scots) polit, Latin politus, from past participle of polire

First Known Use

circa 1500, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of polite was circa 1500

Dictionary Entries Near polite

Cite this Entry

“Polite.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/polite. Accessed 16 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

polite

adjective
po·​lite pə-ˈlīt How to pronounce polite (audio)
politer; politest
1
: showing good taste or training : refined
polite society
polite forms of address
2
: showing consideration and courtesy : courteous
politely adverb
politeness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on polite

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