Definition of politesse in English:



mass noun
  • Formal politeness or etiquette.

    ‘the suave, circumlocutory politesse of a consular official’
    • ‘Then there are independent directors who, through perseverance and politesse, can convince even a rubber-stamp board to reverse course and oust its CEO.’
    • ‘Where the others chased secretaries around desks, he dated women with politesse.’
    • ‘For a moment I thought one of them might warn the staff, but they didn't and anyway the French have an overlay of politesse that makes them immune from such idly malevolent vibes.’
    • ‘Through a twenty-year correspondence, Otto von Habsburg has also shown me the manners and politesse of the Old World juxtaposed with the pragmatism and political sense of the new.’
    • ‘I continue to press for details because it is clear he is interested in talking, but that he's got an evolved sense of politesse so many drivers lack.’
    • ‘The unity is not a matter of social politesse or cooperation, but the essential unity of those who share the same flesh and the same bones.’
    • ‘The same could not be said for Foley, whose Midwestern politesse never quite gelled with the salty bare-knuckles feistiness that's become the DN's trademark.’
    • ‘Has a sudden outbreak of politesse gripped the Internet?’
    • ‘No soft, nonpartisan politesse can erase that well-recorded, hard history.’
    • ‘‘There is always a level of politesse among elites,’ says Susan P. Koniak, a professor of legal ethics at Boston University School of Law.’
    • ‘Ok then, enough with the politesse, let's not beat around the mulberry.’
    • ‘As sexual and scatological as the subjects might be, they are rendered with a kind of politesse that is rare in contemporary graphic art.’
    • ‘Now, some of you may not have kindly old men with cupcakes standing by, ready targets for your politesse.’
    • ‘And he should not be making excuses for his idiot cronies or relying on politesse and bureaucratic snafus to explain why he was late when the crisis hit.’
    • ‘The other is that it seems almost frivolous in its politesse.’
    • ‘Even the purportedly daring offerings had about them a certain politesse that left only a gossamer impression.’
    • ‘If I wanted to talk about the laundry, politesse would indicate that you'd see me.’
    • ‘It sounds so unrealistically, unsophisticatedly direct - so lacking in politesse and not something that is actually done in the real world.’
    • ‘He hasn't succumbed to the fatal politesse and detachment that afflicts many musicians trained to within an inch of their lives.’
    • ‘Neither of them have the courage to break the politesse of the arrangement, and intend to see the date through to the end.’
    sensitivity, understanding, thoughtfulness, consideration, delicacy, diplomacy, discretion, discernment, judgement, prudence, judiciousness, perception, subtlety, wisdom, tactfulness
    View synonyms


Early 18th century: French, from Italian politezza, pulitezza, from pulito ‘polite’.