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From Middle English curtesie, from Anglo-Norman curtesie, from Old French curteisie, cortoisie. [1][2]



courtesy (countable and uncountable, plural courtesies)

  1. (uncountable) Polite behavior.
    Please extend them the courtesy of your presence.
    He was always known for his grace, kindness, and courtesy to people of every rank.
  2. (countable) A polite gesture or remark, especially as opposed to an obligation or standard practice.
    I offered them a ride simply as a courtesy.
  3. (uncountable) Consent or agreement in spite of fact; indulgence.
    They call this pond a lake by courtesy only.
  4. (uncountable) Willingness or generosity in providing something needed.
    They received free advertising through the courtesy of the local newspaper.
    [on a label, caption, etc.] Courtesy the Smith Foundation: [e.g.] use of this image was allowed through the courtesy of the Smith Foundation.
  5. A curtsey.
    • 1760, Oliver Goldsmith, The Citizen of the World
      The lady drops a courtesy in token of obedience, and the ceremony proceeds as usual.
  6. (law) The life interest that the surviving husband has in the real or heritable estate of his wife.

Derived terms[edit]


Derived terms[edit]


courtesy (third-person singular simple present courtesies, present participle courtesying, simple past and past participle courtesied)

  1. Alternative form of curtsey
    • 1740, Samuel Richardson, Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded
      Well, but Polly attended, as I said; and there were strange simperings, and bowing, and courtesying, between them; the honest gentleman seeming not to know how to let his mistress wait upon him []


courtesy (not comparable) (used only before the noun)

  1. Given or done as a polite gesture.
    We paid a courtesy visit to the new neighbors.
  2. Supplied free of charge.
    Synonyms: complimentary, free of charge, gratis
    The event planners offered courtesy tickets for the reporters.