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"external behavior (especially polite behavior) in social intercourse," late 14c., plural of manner.
Under bad manners, as under graver faults, lies very commonly an overestimate of our special individuality, as distinguished from our generic humanity. [Oliver W. Holmes, "The Professor at the Breakfast Table," 1858]Earlier it meant "moral character" (early 13c.).
c.1200, "kind, sort, variety," from Anglo-French manere, Old French maniere "fashion, method, manner, way; appearance, bearing; custom" (12c., Modern French manière), from Vulgar Latin *manaria (source of Spanish manera, Portuguese maneira, Italian maniera), from fem. of Latin manuarius "belonging to the hand," from manus "hand" (see manual (adj.)). The French word was borrowed by other Germanic languages, e.g. Dutch manier, German manier, Swedish maner.
Meaning "customary practice" is from c.1300. Senses of "way of doing something; a personal habit or way of doing; way of conducting oneself toward others" are from c.1300. Meaning "specific nature, form, way something happens" is mid-14c. Of literature from 1660s. Most figurative meanings derive from the original sense "method of handling" which was extended when the word was used to translate Latin modus "method." Phrase manner of speaking is recorded from 1530s. To the manner born ("Hamlet" I iv.15) generally is used incorrectly and means "destined by birth to be subject to the custom."