For example, when we say someone has good courtesy, we can say they are courteous.

Is there an analogous word for having good etiquette?

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    I would say well mannered, but you rarely need the adjective; in this sentence, I would say Bob has good manners. Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 6:31
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    If you take etiquette to mean the rules of polite society then polite would do nicely.
    – Frank
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 7:07
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    Is it not possible to act politely but with poor etiquette and vice-versa? I am trying to think of an example. But I believe 'etiquette' implies something more than politeness. One refers, for example, to professional etiquette, which is what it is considered proper and improper to do in a professional relationship. This doesn't seem to me to be directly equivalent to being polite.
    – WS2
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 7:22
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    Etiquette, from its French origins, means sticking to convention. Therefore, the adjective form is conventional. Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 8:26
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it already contains its own answer, being therefore based on the false premise that courteous and well-mannered refer to different things. Since a person who shows good manners is courteous, no further word is needed nor applies.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 14:49

10 Answers 10


According to OED, the only "valid" adjectival derivative of etiquette is...

etiquettical - relating to etiquette; observing or prescribed by etiquette

...for which the most recent of their six citations is...

2008 National Post (Canada) (Nexis) 10 May (Weekend section) 2
"None of this would have happened had he done the etiquettical thing"

There are several hundred instances of "etiquettical" in Google Books. Leafing through them I can't see any where the term is directly applied to a person, but the observing ... etiquette definition above certainly implies that in principle it could be thus used.

As to the alternative derivation etiquettal (which doesn't seem to feature in any authoritative dictionaries), I would simply note that there are only 15 legible instances in Google Books, all from the past few decades. In light of that I'd say it's just an erroneous form.

In practice it seems people don't actually apply etiquettical (or its bastard offspring etiquettal) to people, even if in principle they could). Probably the most common adjective (putting aside nitpicking over fine semantic distinctions) is OP's own courteous, but I think it's worth noting that manners shares with etiquette the fact that although it can be qualified both positively and negatively (good manners, bad manners), the default interpretation of the word is positive.

So although there are adjectival forms such as ill-mannered and well-mannered, we don't actually need to qualify the term to force the positive interpretation. Here's an instance in a letter from Byron (pub. 1844)...

I desire nothing better than to dine in company with such a mannered man every day in the week :
but of " his character" I know nothing personally; I can only speak to his manners, and these have my warmest approbation.

  • Manners can still mean 'good manners', but surely you would have to concede that Byron's usage of mannered is archaic: when did you ever hear it spoken, or see it in anything written in the past century? Today, the principal connotation of 'mannered' approximates to 'stilted, artificial' (see, for instance, the Macmillan definition: behaving, speaking, or writing in a way that is extremely formal and not natural.
    – Erik Kowal
    Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 3:45

Though not used very often, in fact, very rarely, there does exist an adjective for "etiquette", as described here and here

etiquettal English[edit] Adjective[edit]

(rare) Of, or pertaining to, etiquette.

However, for all practical purposes, you're better off using terms like "well-mannered".

Check out the definition of the term from the Merriam-Webster link

well–mannered adjective

: having or displaying good manners : showing good taste : properly behaved : courteous, polite, well-bred

Also, take a look at usage of this term in some sentences, here, such as-

She is a very well-mannered and polite young woman who engages well with all and particularly contributed to great teamwork with her male classmates

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    Though the adjective etiquettal exists, it certainly doesn't work in the query sentence: "Bob is etiquettal because he acts with proper etiquette" sounds ridiculous. Which goes to demonstrate that the question presented by the OP is horribly misleading, because it suggests that the word required to replace the blank is modelled on the courteous/courtesy pairing. Anyway -- I'm with you that well-mannered is probably the right solution here.
    – Erik Kowal
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 6:58
  • @ErikKowal I'm not familiar with the word etiquettal, but why doesn't it work in the query sentence? Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 7:17
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    @congusbongus - Because as Dark Knight's cited definition shows, it means 'pertaining to etiquette' (e.g. "etiquettal traditions"), rather than 'displaying good etiquette'.
    – Erik Kowal
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 7:20
  • The reason it doesn't work - and the reason the whole question is meaningless - is explained in my answer.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 10:09
  • OED does not acknowledge the existence of etiquettal. They have etiquettical, but both the definition and all six citations strongly suggest it's only used of behaviour or objects relating to etiquette, not to identify a person as "conforming to [good] etiquette". Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 23:15

I'm going to suggest proper. Though, it is usually used with a noun after.

Strictly following rules or conventions, especially in social behavior; seemly: a proper lady; a proper gentleman.


There is also a loan phrase from French, comme il faut, which literally means 'as is necessary' and it can be used in the same sense of proper.

Correct in behaviour or etiquette: my friend is partial to cocaine—in every other way he is very proper and comme il faut

And there is decorous which is used for proper people who behaves with decorum.

Social decorum sets down appropriate social behavior and propriety, and is thus linked to notions of etiquette and manners.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decorum

characterized by dignified propriety in conduct, manners, appearance, character, etc.


The book "The Facts on File Guide to Good Writing" (By Martin H. Manser) explains the difference between decorous and decent and I wanted to share because it is related:

enter image description here


May I suggest polite as it means showing good manners toward others, which should be the essence of good etiquette.

  • Btw, the comments to the question indicate a disparity between being polite and showing good etiquette. Is it a hair to split? Etiquette: the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group. (Google Define Etiquette).
    – SrJoven
    Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 18:49

Punctilious: showing great attention to detail or correct behavior

Civil: obeying the norms of civilization; polite but not friendly

Proprietous: conforming to accepted standards of behavior or morals (see also @ermanen's "proper")

Decorous: marked by propriety [see above] and good taste, which goes above and beyond politeness (also suggested by by @ermanen)

Nice [in a somewhat obsolete sense]: characterized by, showing, or requiring great accuracy, precision, skill, tact, care, or delicacy


From the OP:

Question: Is there an adjectival form for “good etiquette”?

For example, when we say someone has good courtesy, we can say they are courteous.

Is there an analogous word for having good etiquette?

It is clear the OP is not asking for synonyms of to have good etiquette. Such information can easily be retrieved by a Google search[1] by selecting a noun which does have a corresponding adjective.

The analogy the OP refers to is the relationship between the noun courtesy and the adjective courteous, where they are indisputably derived from the same root. Synonyms therefore are not analogous in this context.

As several users have pointed out, there is the adjective etiquettical which is derived from the same root as the noun etiquette. But does it fit the analogy offered by the OP? This post seems to suggest that it cannot be used to describe people.

I can't see any where the term is directly applied to a person...In practice it seems people don't actually apply etiquettical. (FumbleFingers)

Does etiquettical pass the analogy of the OP?

(1a) He has good courtesy. He is courteous.

(1b) He has good etiquette. *He is etiquettical.

From these examples it does not. Therefore etiquettical is not an analogous word (via the analogy defined by the OP).

Instead, here is an example of how etiquettical is used. Note that it sounds a bit bizarre in (1c) to substitute it with adjectives like courteous, well-mannered, polite, etc.

Prudential obligation may conflict with etiquettical obligation[2]

(1c) *Prudential obligation may conflict with courteous/well-mannered/polite obligation.

Since the only adjective derived from the same root as etiquette does not fit the analogy, it is safe to say that the answer is no. There is not an analogous adjective for having good etiquette.


[1] http://thesaurus.com/browse/etiquette

[2] http://books.google.com/books?id=IXe0Ho-4hMcC&pg=PA212&lpg=PA212&dq=etiquettical+books&source=bl&ots=IinRCRfp0W&sig=-lr7kMp60IWhUONLG_DbnFXqcgQ&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ZbHhU7nJA4ewyATPjYGABw&ved=0CEgQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=etiquettical%20books&f=false


I think formal may fit:

  • Following or being in accord with accepted forms, conventions, or regulations: went to a formal party.

As shown below, etiquette has little or nothing to do with being polite or well-mannered. Politeness may be the apparent result of following etiquette rules which are just a code of behaviour you have to adopt in specific contexts. Formality, meaning an established form, rule, or custom, especially one followed merely for the sake of procedure or decorum. is its main characteristic.


  • (Sociology) the customs or rules governing behaviour regarded as correct or acceptable in social or official life
  • (Sociology) a conventional but unwritten code of practice followed by members of any of certain professions or groups: medical etiquette.

Source:Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridge

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    formal usually refers to the behavior, not the person.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 6:40
  • "As shown below, etiquette has little or nothing to do with being polite or well-mannered" I think that's somewhat confusing, Josh, for the following reason. As you say "medical etiquette" or "courtroom etiquette" (for example), have no connection to "politeness". But if you ask "what is politeness?" the answer is, simply and nothing other than, "social etiquette" (in other contexts more specifically, say "table manners" is "eating etiquette").
    – Fattie
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 10:08
  • @JoeBlow - I think politeness can be defined as 'the act of showing regard for others' while etiquette refers to a more structured behaviour. You can be very polite irrespective of etiquette.
    – user66974
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 10:20
  • Name the film! "Do you know why we have table manners? .. To make others feel comfortable." (Beautiful isn't it.) I understand, but the phrase "etiquette has little or nothing to do with being polite" is just going too far and is confusing. (It would be as if I said "diesels have utterly nothing to do with engines!". Sure, there are other engines and there are planets with no! diesel engines.) In every situation we will ever be in, the "showing regard" you mention is achieved by that situation's etiquette. For sure in extremely unknown hypothetical situations (on Mars) where....
    – Fattie
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 10:33
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    Film: "Blast from the Past". Also, when can you separate good etiquette from being polite? "Oh, I'm not being polite. I'm just following acceptable customs!" "Well, I'm not offended by your actions, as they follow acceptable customs, but I can tell you're just following the rules of social acceptability, without regard to my feelings, so you're note really being polite..." Ack. The mind twists. The whole point of etiquette is to be socially correct. The byproduct of that is by definition being polite.
    – SrJoven
    Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 18:56

Your question is meaningless because etiquette (in English) is neither good nor bad, it's a noncountable quality like, say, "weight".

Note that you can have a truck, say, of low weight or of high weight.

Quite simply, there is no adjective of such words.

(It's confusing that people are giving you examples of adjectives of "good etiquette" - similarly there are adjectives for "bad etiquette".)

"etiquettical" is an adjective of etiquette but not in the sense you mean. "etiquettical books", for example, would be books related to etiquette.

Anyway - all of this shouldn't need to be explained at such astounding length. Etiquette is a noncountable quality (such as for example "weight" or "size"); there is no adjective.

Secondly it's very confusing if you mean "good" or "bad" etiquette. Thirdly the answers here ("ways to say good etiquette" are confusing).

  • Sorry about the confusion; I have now edited the question to mean "good etiquette". Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 0:08
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    You can have my upvote, anyway. I can't believe so many people here are rooting for the obviously incorrect etiquettal (itself just a recent and erroneous form of the actual word etiquettical), while downvoting this perfectly correct summary of the problems presented by the question. Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 12:04
  • I feel on this site sometimes the good-hearted desire to provide huge amounts of information (in itself, good & correct information) sometimes outweighs the precisely-answer-question concept!
    – Fattie
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 14:25

Depending on the specific usage you're going for, 'genteel' may suit your purpose. It's not an exact fit, but I see better matches which have not been marked as answers, so I get the impression that you are looking for something with a better connotative fit:

gen·teel adjective \jen-ˈtēl\ : of or relating to people who have high social status

: pretending or trying to have the qualities and manners of people who have high social status

: having a quietly appealing or polite quality

1 a : having an aristocratic quality or flavor : stylish

b : of or relating to the gentry or upper class

c : elegant or graceful in manner, appearance, or shape

d : free from vulgarity or rudeness : polite

It can also be used negatively:

2 a : maintaining or striving to maintain the appearance of superior or middle-class social status or respectability

b (1) : marked by false delicacy, prudery, or affectation

(2) : conventionally or insipidly pretty (timid and genteel artistic style)

Source: "Genteel." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 5 Aug. 2014. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/genteel.


I'm afraid I have a further point in relation to the NEWLY EDITED VERSION OF THIS QUESTION

The question asks for another way to say

"good etiquette".

You know, I'm not really sure that "good etiquette" is a well-formed concept. In short "good etiquette" is bad English, it's not a well-formed phrase.


So, ettiquette is "what you do."

So, we'd say stuffs like: "a person who always follows etiquette" or "I don't know the etiquette in this situation" or "someone who is careful to observe etiquette" or "driving etiquette in Italy is remarkably different from Germany" or "are you following etiquette?" or "what's the etiquette in this sort of meeting?" .. and so on.

I actually believe, I'm afraid to say, it is simply poor English, poorly conceived, to say "good etiquette". What you mean is someone who follows etiquette.


"good etiquette" would be meaningful in the following: "I"m a student of driving etiquette in various European regions. It's fascinating that for example in Provence, the driving etiquette is _ blah blah blah _, whereas in southern Italy, the driving etiquette is _ blah blah blah _. For me, the Italian version is a good etiquette; I just don't like the French driving etiquette. Also in my opinion, Germany driving etiquette was a good etiquette - but their driving social norms have changed lately; I do not like the current German driving etiquette."

See what I mean?}

When you say "good etiquette" in the question title, what you are trying to say is someone who is always careful to follow etiquette. Right? (Obviously, meaning the etiquette in the social milieu in question - naturally etiquettes are wildly different in different eras, regions, etc.)

To explain it simply, "etiquette" is a word similar to "law" or "rulebook".

Note that it is not similar to say "behaviour".

Note that phrases like "he has good law" and "he has good rulebook" are not well-written. What you mean there is "he always follows the law" or "he adheres to that rulebook".

In contrast, it's fine to say "he has good behaviour".

I'm afraid to tell you that, in short, you cannot say "good etiquette".

I bet Churchill would never have written "that was good etiquette" - He'd say "that was a good demonstration of etiquette" or some such.

All the examples you google up, are poor writing.

{Footnote - since the question has utterly changed, I don't see a problem with posting two answers here.}

Finally, regarding what you're literally trying to get at: someone who adheres to (the prevailing) etiquette (in the milieu in question): the only phrases that truly do that are phrases like:

-- she adheres to etiquette
-- she follows etiquette
-- she's a stickler for etiquette
-- she is etiquette-abiding

There is no single word form. (I'm pretty sure there's nothing for the equivalent for "law" either, other than law-abiding.)

One final point in your question you mention "good courtesy". There's no such thing. it's like saying "good height". You can have a lot of courtesy, much courtesy, little courtesy, etc. "Tall" does not mean "good height", it means "a lot of height". "Courteous" does not mean "good courtesy", it means "a lot of courtesy".

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