Polite vs Courteous: 13 Things You Should Know

The words “polite” and “courteous” are often used interchangeably and share without doubt a considerable overlap, but they are not synonyms.

In this article, we will clarify their definitions and how they differ from each other along with some interesting facts and related topics.

Here’s what you need to know:

What does polite mean?

The word “polite” is defined as showing consideration for others, especially in social situations. It’s easy to be polite when you are given the chance to be; all it takes is a smile and a friendly “Hello”.

In contrast, rude (or impolite) means lacking in manners or good behavior.

In this day and age, people have specific definitions for what polite is. It’s not just about being nice to others; it’s about knowing how to act in social situations. In a world where we’re constantly communicating with one another on social media platforms, there are many more chances for us all to inadvertently offend each other. Some of the most common ways that people could be impolite when talking to others on these platforms are by posting inappropriate content or making hurtful comments.

What does courteous mean?

The word “courteous” is defined as having good manners and not offending other people. Courteous behavior is often overlooked but when it’s done well, it makes life easier for everyone around us.

In some cases that may mean thanking someone for holding the door open for you and being kind when they are not expecting it. Being courteous also includes offering your seat on public transportation to another person who needs it more than you do.

When you’re courteous to others, it’s a sign of respect and good manners. It is also more enjoyable to be around people who are kind and polite.

What is the difference between polite and courteous?

We often use the words “polite” and “courteous” interchangeably, but they are not synonyms. The difference in these words is this:

A courteous person has good manners and follows the hidden social rules of each society. So, a courteous person does not offend anyone and is rather defensive.

A polite person has the same character traits as a courteous person AND is in addition also solicitous about the well-being of the people around them.

Examples of polite expressions. Also suitable for E-Mails

Being polite is reflected in the language someone uses to express themselves. Here are some of the most common phrases you can use to talk politely:

“I’m sorry”

“Excuse me”

“Thank you”


“You’re welcome”

“I’m good, thanks for asking!”

“Excuse me/pardon me”

“I’m sorry to bother you, but…”

“Could you please?”

“Thank you for your time!”

How to greet someone politely

A polite greeting is one of the most important parts of a conversation. It sets the tone for your whole interaction and can make or break how well you get along with someone.

Make sure to smile and keep eye contact while you greet.

Here are some example phrases you can use to politely greet somebody:

Good Morning

I’m pleased to meet you.

“It’s wonderful to actually meet you.”

Good evening

“It’s great to finally meet you.”


How are things going for you?

Good afternoon, how did your journey go?

It’s nice to see you!”

Why be polite?

Being polite is a very simple way to make someone’s day. When you do something kind for someone, it can brighten their whole attitude and show them that not everyone in the world is nasty or mean.

Politeness can also help you feel more relaxed and respected at the moment.

Being nice to others will help you be seen in the best light possible, and this is something that we all want to happen!

Top reasons to be polite:

  • It’s the right thing to do
  • You’ll be more popular
  • People will like you better
  • You get what you want more easily

The most polite language in the world

One of the most polite countries is Japan and that’s why Japanese is considered the most polite language in the world. Even if you are a foreigner, Japanese people will be very welcoming and treat you with respect.

In Japan, people are so polite to each other that they have a word for it: “Giri”. Giri is the obligation to do something for someone else. It’s not just limited to social obligations either; Giri could mean doing work at home or in your company.

The Japanese culture is, in many ways, very different from that of the United States. For example, while Americans are generally fairly informal with one another (i.e., calling each other by their first names) and use casual language when conversing (i.e., “My bad!”), the Japanese people tend to be more formal in their behavior and speech patterns, as well as using a level of formality that would make it difficult for us to understand what they’re saying if we didn’t already know something about them or the context in which they were speaking.

What does courteous detachment mean?

Courteous detachment is the ability to be polite and detached when speaking with others. It’s a way of showing respect, but not getting too involved or interested in what they have to say.

It means dealing with people politely without being too close to them. This is a wonderful tool for those who are introverted, shy, or simply don’t want to get involved in other people’s lives.

Some examples of courteous detachment include:

  • Not giving advice when asked
  • Only engaging in small talk
  • Not taking responsibility for problems that are out of your control

What does courteous mean in business?

We now know what courteous means in general, but how does it apply to business?

Being courteous in business is more than just being polite to customers. It also means treating co-workers and the company they represent with respect. It also includes providing extended customer service and to be attentive as soon as they get in contact with the business owner.

In the world of business, it’s easy to forget that we’re all human. We have individual thoughts and feelings, but sometimes in today’s fast-paced society, we forget what it means to be courteous. These two qualities are necessary for people who work with one another daily.

Courteous words in customer service

A customer’s experience can be greatly impacted by how they are treated at a business. Employees need to always remember that the people they are speaking with are not just another person on the other end of a phone line or computer, but rather an individual who is likely feeling vulnerable and seeking reassurance.

The words you use when speaking to your customer can have a big impact. If you can be courteous, it will make the experience more pleasant for both parties involved.

Some proven courteous phrases in customer service are:

“Good morning, how can I help you?”

“I’m not sure, but I’ll find out.”

“That is something I can assist you with.”

“I apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.”

“I’ll ensure that this is resolved as soon as possible for you.”

“What can I do to help you?”

“You’re welcome”

“Thank you for drawing our attention to this.”

“As much as I’d like to assist…”

“I’ll keep you updated by…”

“Thank you for taking the time to call; your input is extremely important to us. If you have any more concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.”

What does a courteous demeanor mean?

Courteous demeanor is a word that has been used for centuries to describe someone who handles themselves with respect and politeness. A person with a courteous demeanor is always mindful of others and their actions, making sure they are not interrupting anyone else or taking up too much space.

In the world of business, a courteous demeanor is just as important as having a stellar resume or being able to handle stressful situations. This means that in addition to dressing for success and keeping your cool when things go wrong, you need to have a certain type of personality.

What are other words for courteous? Some synonyms

In all honesty, the word “courteous” is not the easiest one to pronounce and often sounds a bit too formal. In case you are looking for a different word to use instead, here are some great synonyms:

  • Civil
  • Respectful
  • Considerate
  • Kind
  • Thoughtful
  • Generous
  • Well-mannered
  • Attentive
  • Gracious

What does the word discourteous mean?

The word “discourteous” typically refers to a lack of courtesy or rudeness. It is often used to describe actions or behavior which are rude and inappropriate in social settings.

It’s not uncommon to see the definition broken down into two parts: Without courtesy or respect, and disrespectful. The word “discourteous” can be seen in many different contexts such as when someone doesn’t hold a door for you, cuts in front of you on line, or just say something rude to you outright.