po·​lite | \ pə-ˈlīt How to pronounce polite (audio) \
politer; politest

Definition of polite

1a : of, relating to, or having the characteristics of advanced culture
b : marked by refined cultural interests and pursuits especially in arts and belles lettres
2a : 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

Other Words from polite

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 Neither LeBaron nor her husband were accompanied by lawyers, and the two were polite in person, rarely looking at or addressing each other. San Diego Union-Tribune, 11 May 2022 The crowd was fresh-faced and eager but kind of polite—there to take in a show as spectators more than to graft themselves, by force of shouts or groans or imprecatory utterances, onto the personality of the team. Vinson Cunningham, The New Yorker, 26 Apr. 2022 Rouge Street is otherwise not a particularly polite or hopeful place. New York Times, 19 Apr. 2022 Outsiders are treated with polite but utter suspicion. Selome Hailu, Variety, 1 Apr. 2022 Given that the film’s main tension revolves around an unfeeling (but unfailingly polite) machine, buffering the plot with these character details early on helps personalize the drama. David Sims, The Atlantic, 9 Feb. 2022 Is Robert Reich always impeccably polite when debating other men? Charles C. W. Cooke, National Review, 8 Feb. 2022 When Trump promised to nominate a woman to fill the seat left vacant by Ginsburg, that decision was greeted with a nod and polite applause. Washington Post, 2 Feb. 2022 However, when the owners of the vehicle –brothers and hunters Nathan (Joris Jarsky) and Samuel (Jefferson White), rudely dismiss her firm but polite ask, something shifts within Sandra. Aramide Tinubu, Essence, 28 Jan. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of polite

circa 1500, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for polite

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

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Time Traveler for polite

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The first known use of polite was circa 1500

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Last Updated

24 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Polite.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/polite. Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for polite


po·​lite | \ pə-ˈlīt How to pronounce polite (audio) \
politer; politest

Kids Definition of polite

: showing courtesy or good manners

Other Words from polite

politely adverb
politeness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on polite

Nglish: Translation of polite for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of polite for Arabic Speakers


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