From Middle English courtly, equivalent to court +‎ -ly.



courtly (comparative courtlier, superlative courtliest)

  1. Befitting of a royal court; reflecting the manners or behaviour of people at court.
    Synonyms: refined, dignified, genteel, well-mannered
    He swept off his hat and made a deep courtly bow.
    The troubadours sang songs about courtly love.
  2. Of or relating to a royal court.
    She tried to remain aloof from courtly intrigues.
    • a. 1627, John Beaumont, “Horat. Lib. 2. Sat. 6.” in Bosworth-Field with a Taste of the Variety of Other Poems, London: Henry Seile, p. 40,[3]
      in houres secure from courtly strife
    • 1776, Thomas Paine, Common Sense, Philadelphia, p. 40,[4]
      The rich are in general slaves to fear, and submit to courtly power with the trembling duplicity of a spaniel.
    • 1857, Anthony Trollope, Barchester Towers, London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, & Roberts, Volume 1, Chapter 3, p. 30,[5]
      He had for years held some clerical office appertaining to courtly matters, which had enabled him to live in London,
  3. (obsolete) Overly eager to please or obey.
    Synonyms: flattering, obsequious, servile

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courtly (comparative more courtly, superlative most courtly)

  1. In the manner of a royal court; in a manner befitting of a royal court.
    Synonym: courtlily
    • 1598, Robert Greene, The Scottish Historie of James the Fourth, London, Act I, Scene 1,[7]
      Then will I deck thee Princely, instruct thee courtly,
      And present thee to the Queene as my gift.
    • 1673, John Dryden, The Assignation, London: Henry Herringman, Act II, Scene 3, p. 17,[8]
      [] where, in the name of wonder, have you learn’d to talk so courtly?
    • 1766, Elizabeth Griffith, The Double Mistake, London: J. Almon et al., Act I, Scene 3, p. 12,[9]
      Very courtly and correctly spoken on all sides, my lord;
    • 1980, Anthony Burgess, Earthly Powers, New York: Simon & Schuster, Chapter 74, p. 661,[10]
      The driver waited courtly by the open doors of the saloon.