adjective po·lite \ pə-ˈlīt \
Updated on: 21 Dec 2017

Definition of polite

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





Examples of polite in a Sentence

  1. It was polite of him to hold the door for them.

  2. Please be polite to the guests.

  3. It isn't polite to interrupt people when they're talking.

  4. She received some polite applause despite the mistakes in her performance.

Recent Examples of polite from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of polite

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

POLITE Defined for English Language Learners



Definition of polite for English Language Learners

  • : having or showing good manners or respect for other people

  • : socially correct or proper

POLITE Defined for Kids


adjective po·lite \ pə-ˈlīt \

Definition of polite for Students

politer; politest
: showing courtesy or good manners





Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up polite? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


confident and optimistic

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Namesakes Word Quiz

  • a-citrus-fruit-possibly-named-after-a-person
  • Which of the following is a fruit named after a Moroccan seaport?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!