People tend to have their own feelings about what behavior or conversation subjects are polite or rude. Is there a specific term to refer to a person's personal definitions of this? The terms "ethics", "morals", and "virtues" don't seem specific enough in dealing just with this sense.

  • Perhaps all personal definitions come under one's culture. However, this is less of a question of language than sociology. Maybe sociolinguistics. Why not ask on Linguistics? – Kris Feb 12 '14 at 6:51

I believe the word you seek is 'sensibilities.'

From TFD:

Receptiveness to impression, whether pleasant or unpleasant; acuteness of feeling. Often used in the plural: "The sufferings of the Cuban people shocked our sensibilities" (George F. Kennan).

The implication is that some other group may not have their own sensibilities shocked by the same thing. It then follows that "One's own sensibilities" would determine what an individual perceives as polite, rude, annoying, etc.

  • Even sensibilities would need to be qualified with one's for the required implication. So there's a problem again. :) – Kris Feb 12 '14 at 6:53
  • 1
    @Kris: I would contend no more so than 'ethics', 'morals' or 'virtues.' 'Sensibilities,' without attribution to an individual or group would refer the the collection of feelings itself -- the 'receptiveness to impression' mentioned in the definition cited. – MrWonderful Feb 12 '14 at 7:04
  • Yes, that's what I said. – Kris Feb 12 '14 at 7:04
  • So how's it a problem? – Bradd Szonye Feb 12 '14 at 7:43

"Etiquette"? "Protocol"? "Manners"? "Taste", even?

  • See my comment at MrWonderful's answer. – Kris Feb 12 '14 at 6:53

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.