courtly (comparative courtlier, superlative courtliest)
- 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.
- circa 1599 William Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act III, Scene 2,
- smallcaps Corin: You have too courtly a wit for me; I’ll rest.
- 1682, Aphra Behn, The Roundheads, or, The Good Old Cause, London: D. Brown et al., Act III, Scene 1, p. 23,
- […] you must give men of Quality leave to speak in a Language more Gentile and Courtly than the ordinary sort of mankind.
- 1715, Alexander Pope, The Iliad of Homer, London: Bernard Lintott, Volume 1, Book 3, Observations, p. 11,
- He is a Master of Civility, no less well-bred to his own Sex than courtly to the other.
- 1850, Charles Dickens, David Copperfield, London: Bradbury & Evans, Volume 1, Chapter 17, p. 183,
- As they abased themselves before him, Mr. Micawber took a seat, and waved his hand in his most courtly manner.
- 1947, Malcolm Lowry, Under the Volcano, New York: New American Library, 1965, Chapter 1, p. 11,
- Their voices, the gestures of their refined grimy hands, were unbelievably courtly, delicate. Their carriage suggested the majesty of Aztec princes, their faces obscure sculpturings on Yucatecan ruins.
- Of or relating to a royal court.
- She tried to remain aloof from courtly intrigues.
- ante 1627 Sir John Beaumont, 1st Baronet, “Horat. Lib. 2. Sat. 6.” in Bosworth-Field with a Taste of the Variety of Other Poems, London: Henry Seile, p. 40,
- in houres secure from courtly strife
- 1776, Thomas Paine, Common Sense, Philadelphia, p. 40,
- 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,
- He had for years held some clerical office appertaining to courtly matters, which had enabled him to live in London,
- (obsolete) Overly eager to please or obey.
- Synonyms: flattering, obsequious, servile
- 1763, Charles Churchill (satirist), The Duellist, London: G. Kearsly et al., Book 3, p. 29,
- Here FLATT’RY, eldest born of guile,
- Weaves with rare skill the silken smile,
- The courtly cringe, the supple bow,
- The private squeeze, the Levee vow,
- 1849, Thomas Babington Macaulay, The History of England from the Accession of James the Second, London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, Volume 2, Chapter 7, p. 152,
- That judgment James had notoriously obtained […] by dismissing scrupulous magistrates, and by placing on the bench other magistrates more courtly.
- Portuguese: cortês
- In the manner of a royal court; in a manner befitting of a royal court.
- Synonyms: courtlily
- 1598, Robert Greene (dramatist), The Scottish Historie of James the Fourth, London, Act I, Scene 1,
- 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,
- […] 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,
- Very courtly and correctly spoken on all sides, my lord;
- 1980, Anthony Burgess, Earthly Powers, New York: Simon & Schuster, Chapter 74, p. 661,
- The driver waited courtly by the open doors of the saloon.