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It is a culturally defined phenomenon, and therefore what is considered polite in one culture can sometimes be quite rude or simply eccentric in another cultural context.
Forms of rudeness include acting inconsiderate, insensitive, deliberately offensive, impolite, a faux pas, obscenity, profanity and violating taboos such as deviancy.

Tag question

tag questionsquestion tagtag-question
Preferring tag questions to direct statements, such as "You were at the store, weren't you?"
They can be an indicator of politeness, hedging, consensus seeking, emphasis and/or irony.


courtlydiscourteouscourtly manners
Courtesy (from the word courteis, from the 12th century) is gentle politeness and courtly manners.

Politeness theory

politenessBrown and Levinson's politeness theorypositive face
Politeness theory
Although politeness has been studied in a variety of cultures for many years, Penelope Brown and Stephen Levinson's politeness theory has become very influential.

English coffeehouses in the 17th and 18th centuries

coffeehousepenny universitiescoffeehouses
The art of polite conversation and debate was particularly cultivated in the coffeehouses of the period.
The language of polite and civil conversation was considered to be essential to the conduct of coffeehouse debate and conversation.


lyingwhite liefabrication
Polite lying
A polite lie is a lie that a politeness standard requires, and which is usually known to be untrue by both parties.

Politeness maxims

Principle of Politeness
Politeness maxims (Geoffrey Leech)
According to Geoffrey Leech, there is a politeness principle with conversational maxims similar to those formulated by Paul Grice.

Languages of East Asia

East Asian LanguagesSoutheast and East AsiaEast-Asian languages
Brown and Levinson's theory of politeness has been criticised as not being universally valid, by linguists working with East-Asian languages, including Japanese.
Linguistic systems of politeness, including frequent use of honorifics, with varying levels of politeness or respect, are well-developed in Japanese and Korean.


formalinformalFormal feeling
The difference between formality and politeness is often a point of confusion for those from relatively informal cultures.

List of Carleton College people

Penelope Brown, 1965, anthropologist, co-creator of the theory of politeness

List of expressions related to death

gone to GodExpressions related to deathinnocuous sounding bureaucratic language

Cigar etiquette

Cigar etiquette is polite behaviour when smoking a cigar.

Bill Miner

Billy Miner
Known for his unusual politeness while committing robberies, he was widely nicknamed the Grey Fox, Gentleman Robber or the Gentleman Bandit. He is reputed to have been the originator of the phrase "Hands up!"

Information structure

topic and emphasis
This generally includes only those aspects of information that “respond to the temporary state of the addressee’s mind”, and excludes other aspects of linguistic information such as references to background (encyclopedic/common) knowledge, choice of style, politeness, and so forth.

Grammatical conjugation

Conjugation may be affected by person, number, gender, tense, aspect, mood, voice, case, and other grammatical categories such as possession, definiteness, politeness, causativity, clusivity, interrogativity, transitivity, valency, polarity, telicity, volition, mirativity, evidentiality, animacy, associativity, pluractionality, reciprocity, agreement, polypersonal agreement, incorporation, noun class, noun classifiers, and verb classifiers in some languages.

Franklin Pangborn

One of those character actors who always played essentially the same character no matter the situation, Pangborn portrayed a prissy type of person, polite, elegant, and highly energetic, often officious, fastidious, somewhat nervous, prone to becoming flustered but essentially upbeat, and with an immediately recognizable high-speed patter-type speech pattern.

Children's literature

childrenchildren's bookschildren's book
A growing polite middle-class and the influence of Lockean theories of childhood innocence combined to create the beginnings of childhood as a concept.


By the late 18th century, Enlightenment era values began to influence society with new self-conscious ideas about politeness, civil behaviour and new attitudes towards violence.

Passive-Aggressive Notes

Passive-Aggressive Notes is a website that documents "painfully polite and hilariously hostile notes from shared spaces the world over"; most of these spaces are shared apartments, offices, or stores.


evil geniusvillainousvillainess
It referred to a person of less than knightly status and so came to mean a person who was not chivalrous and polite.

Sandra Metts

Her research areas include deception in close relationships, politeness, sexual communication, relationship engagement, and facework—face is a social identity that people construct during social interactions.