Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Courteous formality; politeness: "the soul of uptown refinement and . . . politesse” ( Russell Baker).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Civility, politeness, courtesy or gallantry; or an instance of this.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Politeness.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Politeness.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. courtesy towards women

Etymologies

French, from Old French, cleanliness, from Italian pulitezza, politezza, from pulire, to polish, clean, from Latin polīre; see polite.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From the French politesse, from the Italian politezza, from polito, past participle of pulire ("to polish”, “to clean"), from the Latin polire, present active infinite form of poliō ("I polish”, “I smooth"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Lord Edward at once relieved the squaw of her pack by placing it upon his own shoulders, -- a beautiful instance of what the French call politesse de coeur -- the inbred politeness of the true gentleman.

    Self help; with illustrations of conduct and perseverance

  • To Robert Plant he was this absolutely elite gentleman, the master of serenity, as much at home with the backstage cavorting of Led Zeppelin as he was with the politesse of high society. . .

    The Man Behind the Music

  • Mr. Fumaroli agrees: The courtly way of life is his maquette for the spread of human happiness he never mentions that you had to have the standing and the old money to enjoy it: "Elegance, politesse and a new sweetness of manners . . . prefigured a world in which each man's freedom could accommodate the equality of all."

    Why They All Came to Versailles

  • And with that she combined abuse of Republican politicians and the entire Washington establishment that tolerated their existence with her unique mix of affected aristocratic politesse and unblinking belligerence.

    O: A Presidential Novel

  • With trademark Asian politesse, Japan’s Finance Minister Jun Azumi let Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner know just what a problem Washington is creating for Tokyo, which relies on Iran for 10% of its oil needs.

    Pepe Escobar: The Myth of “Isolated” Iran

  • Miss Conduct doesn't usually have occasion to discuss children's literature, it being a realm of impeccable manners and politesse.

    Archive 2009-08-01

  • In 2008, the last time we wrote to Mr. Dimon, the fixer assigned to our case came from the Chase Executive Resolution Committee, which still sounds to me like a branch of the East German Secret Police, and indeed, our fixer would've been right at home in the Stasi, her humorless manner balanced between cool politesse and infuriating snottiness.

    Alfred Gingold: THE WEASEL BLINKS

  • What is undoubtedly behind all this public politesse is an attempt by Mubarak to gain some breathing room, especially from the American government and European leaders, so that ultimately, over the next few days or weeks, he can quietly initiate an Iranian-style crackdown on protesters, or worse, another Tiananmen Square-like bloodbath that wipes out the democracy movement for good.

    Stephen Schlesinger: Another Iranian-Style Crackdown in Egypt? Another Tiananmen Square?

  • Diversity in America: different strokes for thee and me, and I can bludgeon you with political politesse and correctness, if I am not WASPish or Jewish.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » Support for Restricting the Speech of Students Who Wear American Flags to School on Cinco de Mayo

  • The offer was understood as the kind of politesse with which Truman offered Marshall Plan aid to Stalin—knowing, of course, that Congress would withdraw funding immediately were Stalin to accept.

    The Return

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  • She'd had the situation explained to her by Ellis, whom she said treated her with a sort of ludicrous medieval politesse. From "The Last Werewolf" by Glen Duncan.

    March 23, 2012

  • “And to prepare for the role of Vito Corleone in ‘The Godfather,’ he ‘got himself invited to the home of a well-placed Mafioso in New Jersey,’ where at a dinner for some 40 people, he took mental notes on the ‘exaggerated politesse’ they showed to a stranger, the ‘manner in which powerful dons spoke in quiet voices; the way the men went out of their way to be gracious to their women, but also how they kept them in secondary roles.’�?

    The New York Times, The Lion of the Screen, and What Made Him Roar, by Michiko Kakutani, December 8, 2008

    December 9, 2008