Curtsy vs courtesy

Curtsy and courtesy are words that are close in spelling and pronunciation and may be considered confusables. We will examine the different meanings of the confusables curtsy and courtesy, the word origins of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.

A curtsy is a formal gesture a female makes in the presence of royalty. To curtsy, a woman or girl places one foot in front of the other and bends the knees. In times past, little girls would curtsy to their elders, but this has long gone out of fashion. Curtsy is used as a noun or a verb; related words are curtsies, curtsied, curtsying. The word curtsy is actually a 16th century word that is a variant of the word courtesy.

Courtesy is polite behavior, good manners, behaving with respect and consideration of others. Courtesy is also used to mean an extra service a vendor may afford a paying customer. The word courtesy is noun and is derived from the old French words curteisie and cortoisie, which mean noble behavior.


Kate curtsied as the Queen’s car drove off, which was followed by a little curtsy from Charlotte. (Daily Express)

As Diana awkwardly makes her way around the room, curtsying to the Queen and dizzyingly trying to greet everyone (to little success) in the fourth season of The Crown, one thing is clear: she is an outsider. (Town and Country Magazine)

She is a San Francisco-based etiquette expert who offers workshops on courtesy and manners. (Washington Post)

The worse things get, courtesy of the selfish, insensitive and self-centered, the more likely businesses are to get shut down, some of them for good. (Flathead Beacon)

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