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[kawrt-lee, kohrt-] /ˈkɔrt li, ˈkoʊrt-/
adjective, courtlier, courtliest.
polite, refined, or elegant:
courtly manners.
flattering; obsequious.
noting, pertaining to, or suitable for the court of a sovereign.
in a courtly manner; politely or flatteringly.
Origin of courtly
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English; see court, -ly
Related forms
courtliness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for courtly
  • His early, moody monochromes in oil and beeswax convey a smoldering ardor that is courtly in manner and distraught in tone.
  • Lewis stood out among his contemporaries for his eloquent oratory and courtly manner.
  • Explores the circulation of courtly and non-courtly masques, including works by lesser-known writers.
  • Without this courtly dance, you would never have been anything more than a fertilised egg.
  • In short, troubadour songs were a courtly art, reflecting the ideals of the feudal aristocracy.
  • There was a trickle of visitors, who would usually be welcomed with courtly formality.
  • He responded with courtly deference, giving them his full attention.
  • These lines are a fine specimen of gallant and courtly compliment.
  • His deafness made him turn from courtly to literary life.
  • He was a holding a matching cup and saucer and he placed them, with a courtly flourish, on my desk.
British Dictionary definitions for courtly


adjective -lier, -liest
of or suitable for a royal court
refined in manner
Derived Forms
courtliness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for courtly

mid-15c., "having manners befitting a court," from court (n.) + -ly (1). Meaning "pertaining to the court" is from late 15c. Courtly love "highly conventionalized medieval chivalric love" (amour courtois) is attested from 1896.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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