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 But Yeung has a lot of other social statements to broach in his careful, polite way, and so, soon after, Angie is fussing in the kitchen and calls out a question to Pat, who doesn’t answer. Jessica Kiang, Variety, 25 Feb. 2024 One notable element is that the AI was relatively polite and civil when making the interjections. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 16 Feb. 2024 This will bring the polite impatience of the group to bear on the speaker, as well as providing opportunities to start a side conversation or slip away. Judith Martin, The Mercury News, 15 Feb. 2024 Dear Miss Manners: Is there any polite way to encourage someone who is recounting an anecdote to you to come to the point a little faster? Jacobina Martin, Washington Post, 15 Feb. 2024 As a student at St. Paul on the Lake Catholic School, Fraser was kind and polite to classmates, clergy and teachers, Principal Tina Forsythe said. Georgea Kovanis, Detroit Free Press, 11 Feb. 2024 But Liko is polite, humble, and selective with her words. Natalie Krebs, Outdoor Life, 7 Feb. 2024 Include a call to action if the review is positive, or a polite invitation to resolve the issue if the review is negative. Jodie Cook, Forbes, 12 Feb. 2024 The Final Verdict All in all, hat etiquette comes down to what some view as proper or polite, but just as with any other etiquette discussion, these hat rules can be subjective in different situations and depending on different people, cultures, and beliefs. Kaitlyn Yarborough, Southern Living, 8 Feb. 2024 See More

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 4 Mar. 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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