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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 politely
  • The factory superintendent nodded politely and led them into a large building with peeling gray stucco walls.
  • Within seconds, he's peppering the driver-politely but insistently-with questions.
  • Any and all requests for boxing matches, meanwhile, will be politely declined.
  • They will listen politely and forget the whole matter before they log onto the computer to write their next term papers.
  • People either throw up their hands in horror or shudder politely.
  • He politely turned down my prescription for a bone-strengthening drug, certain it would upset his stomach horribly.
  • He's intelligent, he can only act politely, and he's an excellent means to boost the show's viewer rating.
  • And that doesn't simply mean to politely grow mute while your adversary talks.
  • That's a fair question, and not at all obnoxious if phrased politely.
  • If it's orally requested, politely suggest your reluctance to do so.
British Dictionary definitions for politely


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 politely



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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