January 27, 2012
debonair (adjective)
\deb-uh-NAIR\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: gracefully charming
How do you use it?
"'Good evening, Apollo!' she answered, smiling back at him, for he too looked unusually debonair, and the thought of entering the ballroom on the arm of such a personable man caused Amy to pity the four plain Misses Davis from the bottom of her heart." (Louisa May Alcott, Little Women)
Are you a word wiz?

The word "debonair" traces to the three words "de bon aire." What do you think "de bon aire" means?

In Anglo-French (the French language spoken in medieval England), someone who was genteel and well-brought-up was described as "deboneire." The term was formed through the combination of the three Anglo-French words "de bon aire," which mean literally "of good nature." When "deboneire" was borrowed into English as "debonere" in the 13th century, it basically meant "courteous," a sense that is now pretty much obsolete. The word eventually developed its current meaning which incorporates charm, polish, and worldliness. "Debonair" often also suggests a carefree attitude and is usually used in reference to men.
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