c. 1300, curteis, "having elegant manners, well-bred, polite, urbane," also "gracious, benevolent," from Old French curteis (Modern French courtois) "having courtly bearing or manners," from curt "court" (see court (n.)) + -eis, from Latin -ensis.
Rare before c. 1500. In feudal society, also denoting a man of good education (hence the name Curtis). Medieval courts were associated with good behavior and also beauty; compare German hübsch "beautiful," from Middle High German hübesch "beautiful," originally "courteous, well-bred," from Old Franconian hofesch, from hof "court." Related: Courteously (mid-14c., kurteis-liche).
updated on April 19, 2018