Definition of politesse in US English:



  • Formal politeness or etiquette.

    ‘the suave, circumlocutory politesse of a consular official’
    • ‘If I wanted to talk about the laundry, politesse would indicate that you'd see me.’
    • ‘Has a sudden outbreak of politesse gripped the Internet?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Now, some of you may not have kindly old men with cupcakes standing by, ready targets for your politesse.’
    • ‘It sounds so unrealistically, unsophisticatedly direct - so lacking in politesse and not something that is actually done in the real world.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Neither of them have the courage to break the politesse of the arrangement, and intend to see the date through to the end.’
    • ‘Even the purportedly daring offerings had about them a certain politesse that left only a gossamer impression.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He hasn't succumbed to the fatal politesse and detachment that afflicts many musicians trained to within an inch of their lives.’
    • ‘Where the others chased secretaries around desks, he dated women with politesse.’
    • ‘The other is that it seems almost frivolous in its 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.’
    • ‘As sexual and scatological as the subjects might be, they are rendered with a kind of politesse that is rare in contemporary graphic art.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Ok then, enough with the politesse, let's not beat around the mulberry.’
    • ‘Then there are independent directors who, through perseverance and politesse, can convince even a rubber-stamp board to reverse course and oust its CEO.’
    • ‘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.’
    sensitivity, understanding, thoughtfulness, consideration, delicacy, diplomacy, discretion, discernment, judgement, prudence, judiciousness, perception, subtlety, wisdom, tactfulness
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Early 18th century: French, from Italian politezza, pulitezza, from pulito ‘polite’.