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 The classical-meets-country-house architecture offers a relaxed lifestyle fused with urbane glamour and a thoroughly modern slate of creature comforts. Mark David, Robb Report, 18 June 2024 Examples included house wrens (Troglodytes aedon) and urbane digger bees (Anthophora urbana). Discover Magazine, 15 June 2024 The headline, Hollywood’s Brat Pack—a sideways reference to the clique of urbane rebel entertainers, including Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr., who cool-strutted through Hollywood and Las Vegas in the 1960s—had the catchy élan that editors have always strived for, even before the clickbait era. Stephanie Zacharek, TIME, 13 June 2024 The duo represented a new generation of Conservatives: deft and urbane, easy in their privilege. Sam Knight, The New Yorker, 25 Mar. 2024 See all Example Sentences for urbane 

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 23 Jul. 2024.

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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