Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Marked by or showing consideration for others and observance of accepted social usage.
  • adjective Refined; elegant.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Polished; smooth; lustrous; bright.
  • Polished, refined, or elegant in speech, manner, or behavior; well-bred; courteous; complaisant; obliging: said of persons or their speech or behavior, etc.: as, polite society; he was very polite.
  • Polished or refined in style, or employing such a style: now rarely applied to persons: as, polite learning; polite literature (that is, belleslettres).
  • Synonyms Civil, Polite, Courteous, Urbane, Complaisant, gracious, affable, courtly, gentlemanly, ladylike. Civil, literally, applies to one who fulfils the duty of a citizen; it may mean simply not rude, or observant of the external courtesies of intercourse, or quick to do and say gratifying and complimentary things. Polite applies to one who shows a polished civility, who has a higher training in ease and gracefulness of manners; politeness is a deeper, more comprehensive, more delicate, and perhaps more genuine thing than civility. Polite, though much abused, is becoming the standard word for the bearing of a refined and kind person toward others. Courteous, literally, expresses that style of politeness which belongs to courts: a courteous man is one who is gracefully respectful in his address and manner—one who exhibits a union of dignified complaisance and kindness. The word applies to all sincere kindness and attention. Urbane, literally city-like, expresses a sort of politeness which is not only sincere and kind, but peculiarly suave and agreeable. Complaisant applies to one who pleases by being pleased, or obliges and is polite by yielding personal preferences; it may represent mere fawning, but generally does not. See genteel.
  • [⟨ L. politus, pp. of polire, polish: see polish, verb] To polish; refine.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb obsolete To polish; to refine; to render polite.
  • adjective obsolete Smooth; polished.
  • adjective Smooth and refined in behavior or manners; well bred; courteous; complaisant; obliging; civil.
  • adjective Characterized by refinement, or a high degree of finish.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Well-mannered, civilized.
  • adjective obsolete Smooth, polished, burnished.
  • verb obsolete, transitive To polish; to refine; to render polite.

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

  • adjective showing regard for others in manners, speech, behavior, etc.
  • adjective marked by refinement in taste and manners
  • adjective not rude; marked by satisfactory (or especially minimal) adherence to social usages and sufficient but not noteworthy consideration for others

Etymologies

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

[Middle English polit, polished, from Latin polītus, past participle of polīre, to polish; see polish.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin politus ("polished"), past participle of polire ("to polish"); see polish.

Examples

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