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[puh-lahyt] /pəˈlaɪt/
adjective, politer, politest.
showing good manners toward others, as in behavior, speech, etc.; courteous; civil:
a polite reply.
refined or cultured:
polite society.
of a refined or elegant kind:
polite learning.
Origin of polite
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Latin polītus, past participle of polīre to polish
Related forms
politely, adverb
politeness, noun
superpolite, adjective
superpolitely, adverb
superpoliteness, noun
1. well-bred, gracious. See civil. 2. urbane, polished, poised, courtly, cultivated.
1, 2. rude. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for polite
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Your lordships wishes are commands with me, said Manuel, with a polite salutation.

    Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf George W. M. Reynolds
  • The plausible and polite manner of the stranger was effectual with George.

    Life in London Edwin Hodder
  • But the boys meant to be polite and, after all, that is what counts.

  • A polite lie had been written to her husband, a banker of power in the city.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • A certain magistrate told somebody whom he was examining in court that he or she "should always be polite to the police."

    All Things Considered G. K. Chesterton
British Dictionary definitions for polite


showing regard for others, in manners, speech, behaviour, etc; courteous
cultivated or refined: polite society
elegant or polished: polite letters
Derived Forms
politely, adverb
politeness, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Latin polītus polished; see polish
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 polite

late 14c., "polished, burnished" (mid-13c. as a surname), from Latin politus "refined, elegant, accomplished," literally "polished," past participle of polire "to polish, to make smooth" (see polish (v.)). Used literally at first in English; sense of "elegant, cultured" is first recorded c.1500, that of "behaving courteously" is 1748 (implied in politely). Related: Politeness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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