Definition of courtesy in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkərdəsē/

noun (plural courtesies)

1The showing of politeness in one’s attitude and behavior toward others: he had been treated with a degree of courtesy not far short of deference
More example sentences
  • I expect politeness and courtesy towards me as landowner, my family, friends, guests and visitors.
  • They want lessons in politeness, courtesy, and most of all the correct way to drive a car in traffic.
  • But that is not all: it is unfailing courtesy, especially towards the very old and the very young, that makes association with such men such a privilege.
1.1 (often courtesies) A polite speech or action, especially one required by convention: the superficial courtesies of diplomatic exchanges
More example sentences
  • I was brought up understanding that there were certain courtesies and considerations to be extended to all fellow creatures.
  • Beneath the jargon, cautious phrases and academic courtesies, one thing was clear: the consensus about social constructs was unraveling.
  • ‘They used to chase us away, now they call us ‘madam’ and extend us courtesies,’ she adds.
1.2 [as modifier] (Especially of transport) supplied free of charge to people who are already paying for another service: he traveled from the hotel in a courtesy car
More example sentences
  • Incidentally, does your motor insurer offer a free comprehensive courtesy car service when yours is out of action?
  • Some hotels offer a courtesy shuttle to and from the airport.
  • Excellent service facilities at very competitive prices with free courtesy cars available.
1.3 archaic A curtsy.



by courtesy

As a favor rather than by right: he was not at the conference only by courtesy
More example sentences
  • ‘I spoke at the meeting,’ he said, ‘but I had to say I had no legal standing and I was there only by courtesy.’
  • The veteran correspondent adds, ‘The Senate was run by courtesy, all right - like a longshoreman's union.’
  • Whereas taxi drivers look at you blankly when you demand to be taken to somewhere that serves booze, ‘art students’ are bound by courtesy and their knowledge of English to help you.

(by) courtesy of

Given or allowed by: photograph courtesy of the Evening Star
More example sentences
  • They won an all-expenses-paid weekend away courtesy of the newspaper.
  • But we just got the most valuable piece of information on the Bahamas courtesy of a reader.
  • The movie is courtesy of our gracious holiday hosts, an added bonus to their, as ever, amazing hospitality.
informal2.1 As a result of; thanks to.
Example sentences
  • Homeward bound, I got a couple of hours closer to Toronto courtesy of my sister and her boyfriend.
  • Of the nine goals scored in the game, seven were courtesy of special teams.
  • Successful applicants will get their rural trip courtesy of a new TV programme.


Middle English: from Old French cortesie, from corteis (see courteous).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: cour·te·sy

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