Definition of courtesy in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkəːtɪsi/

noun (plural courtesies)

1 [mass noun] The showing of politeness in one’s attitude and behaviour towards others: he treated the players with courtesy and good humour
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.
politeness, courteousness, good manners, civility, respect, respectfulness, deference, chivalry, gallantry, good breeding, gentility, graciousness, kindness, consideration, thought, thoughtfulness, cordiality, geniality, affability, urbanity, polish, refinement, courtliness, decorousness, tact, discretion, diplomacy
British informal decency
humorous couth
1.1 [count noun] A polite remark or considerate act: a ritual exchange of courtesies with the lawyers links to the manufacturers' websites are provided as a courtesy to the user
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: 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.
2 archaic A curtsy.



by courtesy

As a favour 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.
benevolence, kindness, generosity, indulgence, favour, consideration, consent, permission

(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: he booked his place in the final courtesy of a remarkable victory
More 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

Line breaks: cour|tesy

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