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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.
  2. (countable) A polite gesture or remark.
    I offered them a ride simply as a courtesy.
    • Shakespeare
      My lord, for your many courtesies I thank you.
  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.
  5. A curtsey.
    • Goldsmith
      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 termsEdit


Derived termsEdit


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

  1. Alternative form of curtsey
    • Samuel Richardson
      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.