I read of the words "polite" and "politics" on Wiktionary. They originate from Latin word for "smooth" and Greek word for "state", so superficially i concluded they have nothing in common.

But the connection makes sense. Wiktionary defines "politics" also as "Political maneuvers or diplomacy between people, groups, or organizations, especially involving power, influence or conflict". To be successful with politics an individual has to be polite, woo the crowd, be a nice guy. Rude and hostile people in such environment are quickly marginalized and shut up.

Were "polite" and "politics" connected etymologically at some point?

  • Looks like Mr. Shiny and New has it covered, but just wanted to note that "politics" has its own adjective: "politic."
    – Rusty Tuba
    Dec 5, 2014 at 19:48
  • Is this about political correctness by any chance :p ? "Être poli" in French does mean to be polite.
    – James P.
    Dec 19, 2016 at 20:29

2 Answers 2


They are not related.

Polite (en) <- Latin politus "polished" <- Latin polio "polish" <- *pel- "to strike" (Proto-Indo-European) (see Wiktionary)

Politics (en) <- Politic (en) <- Polis "city" (ancient Greek) <- *tpolH- "fortification" (Proto-Indo-European) (see Wiktionary)


I think they stem from the same root. The Greek word politika means "affairs of state" and hardly connoted anything like the necessity to be polite (from Latin politus, "refined, organized"). The connection can be seen, however, in the Late Latin polita (organized government), which serves a junction point for the state and organized meanings.

The information above has taken from http://etymonline.com which is excellent resource for such researches.

  • And general reference. Nov 2, 2014 at 23:55
  • This is wrong, as explained by Mr. Shiny and New's answer above.
    – herisson
    Feb 29, 2016 at 5:32

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