ur·​bane ˌər-ˈbān How to pronounce urbane (audio)
: notably polite or polished in manner
urbanely adverb

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When Should You Use urbane?

City slickers and country folk have long debated whether life is better in town or in the wide-open spaces, and urbane is a term that springs from the throes of that debate. In its earliest English uses, urbane was synonymous with its close relative urban ("of, relating to, characteristic of, or constituting a city"). Both words come from the Latin adjective urbanus ("urban, urbane"), which in turn is derived from urbs, meaning "city." Urbane developed its modern sense denoting savoir faire from the belief (no doubt fostered by city dwellers) that living in the city made one more suave and polished than did leading a rural life.

Choose the Right Synonym for urbane

suave, urbane, diplomatic, bland, smooth, politic mean pleasantly tactful and well-mannered.

suave suggests a specific ability to deal with others easily and without friction.

a suave public relations coordinator

urbane implies high cultivation and poise coming from wide social experience.

an urbane traveler

diplomatic stresses an ability to deal with ticklish situations tactfully.

a diplomatic negotiator

bland emphasizes mildness of manner and absence of irritating qualities.

a bland master of ceremonies

smooth suggests often a deliberately assumed suavity.

a smooth salesman

politic implies shrewd as well as tactful and suave handling of people.

a cunningly politic manager

Examples of urbane in a Sentence

The dialogue is witty and urbane. a gentlemanly and urbane host of elegant dinner parties
Recent Examples on the Web Seong-Jin Cho, among our more urbane young pianists, offered some delightfully vivacious Mozart in partnership with the conductor Susanna Mälkki, who amply demonstrated there and in her thrillingly exact Bartók why her star burns ever brighter. David Allen, New York Times, 16 Aug. 2023 This urbane Penn grad, now in his early 30s, had an astonishing tale to tell and an extraordinary deal to offer. Frank Gannon, WSJ, 6 Aug. 2023 The novel’s influence was cemented by Philip Kaufman’s urbane 1988 film adaptation, which starred Daniel Day-Lewis, Lena Olin (and her bowler hat) and Juliette Binoche. Dwight Garner, New York Times, 12 July 2023 Colleagues describe him, variously, as urbane, effective and smart. Ahmed Al Omran, New York Times, 13 July 2023 Advertisement In turning the area into the kind of urban playground that might attract young, urbane software engineers, the company has launched plans that add more than a dozen new street-level retail options to the campus, from a cycling studio to a dog day-care facility and a taqueria. Teo Armus, Washington Post, 15 June 2023 But with the advent of the Great Depression and World War II, his urbane, effete mannequins fell out of favor. Dan Avery, NBC News, 7 June 2023 Franks’ sly, svelte songs drew from jazz, bossa nova, funk, urbane pop, soul and more. George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 21 June 2023 The urbane and cultured Johnson was an insider with a vast network of contacts in publishing and politics. Mary Ann Gwinn, Los Angeles Times, 30 Mar. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Latin urbanus urban, urbane

First Known Use

circa 1623, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of urbane was circa 1623


Dictionary Entries Near urbane

Cite this Entry

“Urbane.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/urbane. Accessed 28 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


ur·​bane ˌər-ˈbān How to pronounce urbane (audio)
: very polite and smooth in manner

More from Merriam-Webster on urbane

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