The Meaning of Debonair: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of debonair? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word debonair, including its definition, usage, word origin, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word debonair mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, The word debonair is an adjective that means suave, urbane, or lighthearted and nonchalant. The pronunciation of debonair is ​​​ˌdɛbəˈnɛə. A person who is debonair has an affability or courteousness about them. This word originally meant of good descent or good appearance, but has since become used in the altered sense of having a good disposition, sophisticated charm, or self-confident air. A person who is debonair will likely take a celebratory approach to a disagreeable problem in a carefree way. 

Many different languages also contain words that mean debonair. You may notice that some of these words look and sound similar to one another. These are called cognates, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning and also look and sound similar across languages. Cognates are often formed when two words have the same root or language of origin such as Latin or Greek.Learning different translations for new words is very important if you are going to be traveling to a foreign country or if you are speaking with someone who does not speak English. This list of translations for the word Debonair is provided by Word Sense.

  •  German: erfahren‎, weltgewandt‎, kultiviert‎
  •  Bokmål: sofistikert‎
  •  Polish: obyty‎ (masc.)
  •  Portuguese: sofisticado‎ (masc.)
  •  Russian: искушённый‎, умудрённый (umudr’ónyj), о́пытный‎
  •  French: cosmopolite‎ (masc.) (f)
  •  Maori: mātanga‎
  •  Macedonian: запознаен‎, способен‎, искусен‎
  •  Greek: έμπειρος‎ (masc.), πολύπειρος‎ (masc.)
  •  Serbo-Croatian: sofisticiran‎ (masc.), prefinjen‎ (masc.), iskusan‎, vješt‎
  •  Romanian: sofisticat‎
  •  Nynorsk: sofistikert‎
  •  Dutch: wereldwijs‎
  •  Italian: sofisticato‎
  •  Swedish: världsvan‎, erfaren‎
  •  Spanish: de mundo‎, sofisticado‎
  •  Finnish: hienostunut‎
  •  Catalan: sofisticat‎

What is the origin of the word debonair?

According to Etymonline, the word debonair has been used since the year 1200 to refer to someone who is mild and gentle. This comes from the Old French debonaire, from the term de bon aire, meaning “of good race” or “of good lineage or good stock.” This was originally used when speaking of thoroughbred hawks, which was the opposite of the French demalaire. De comes from the Latin . Aire comes from the Latin ager meaning place or field, from the  Proto-Indo-European root agro meaning field. The word debonaire was used in Middle English as debonere to mean docile or courteous, but now has meant pleasantly lighthearted and affable since the 1680s. This word is from the Latin bonus deu, and the Indo-European root family of aire meaning nest and aerie. Related words include the adverb debonairly (adv.), which uses the suffix ly.

What are synonyms and antonyms for the word debonair?

There are a plethora of different words that one can use in place of the word debonair. These are known as synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning as another word or phrase. Synonyms are very useful to know if you are trying to expand your vocabulary or if you are trying to avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms for the word debonair is provided by Thesaurus.

  •  polite
  •  clubby
  •  refined
  •  detached
  •  chipper
  •  nice
  •  benevolent
  •  smooth
  •  genteel
  •  gracious
  •  charming
  •  balanced
  •  amiable
  •  urbane
  •  jaunty
  •  good-humored
  •  nonchalant
  •  affable
  •  cultivated
  •  cultured
  •  amicable
  •  congenial
  •  good-natured
  •  metropolitan
  •  poised
  •  bland
  •  courteous
  •  civil
  •  well-mannered
  •  pleasant
  •  warm
  •  breezy
  •  kindly
  •  buoyant
  •  cordial
  •  sophisticated
  •  mild
  •  gentle
  •  happy
  •  genial
  •  polished
  •  casual
  •  approachable
  •  dashing
  •  mannerly
  •  elegant
  •  benign
  •  well-bred
  •  obliging
  •  cosmopolitan
  •  sociable
  •  lighthearted
  •  sprightly
  •  suave
  •  cheerful

There are also numerous different words that mean the opposite of the word debonair. These opposite words are called antonyms. Antonyms are also very useful to know if you are looking to expand your vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word debonair is also provided by Thesaurus.

  •  inexperienced
  •  callow
  •  genuine
  •  plain
  •  unrefined
  •  authentic
  •  kid
  •  childlike
  •  uncomplicated
  •  homey
  •  unstudied
  •  crude
  •  unworldly
  •  unschooled
  •  guileless
  •  wide-eyed
  •  cornball
  •  natural
  •  uninvolved
  •  green
  •  clean
  •  bush-league
  •  corny
  •  unaffected
  •  simple
  •  unartificial
  •  unsophisticated
  •  rookie
  •  raw
  •  artless
  •  unadulterated
  •  folksy
  •  innocent
  •  straightforward
  •  ingenuous
  •  untutored
  •  pure
  •  naive

How can the word debonair be used in a sentence?

The word debonair can be used in many different contexts in the English language. Last word can sometimes be considered archaic, but it describes a very specific type of person. Below are a few examples of debonair being used in sentences. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today. 

The life of this debonair young millionaire was filled with a bounty of fancy parties, custom tailor suits, and mass consumption. 

The jaunty optimist was considered debonair by his classmates at Princeton University. His own wit could help him achieve anything. 

The debonair gentleman took us to many suave parties that night; it seemed like he ran into someone he knew with every jaunty step we took. 

Mary Alice loves reading books in the romance genre and fills them with bookmarks of her favorite passages. She loves the tales of dashing, debonair gentleman sweeping women off their feet. In her current book, a wharf worker disguises himself as a socialite when he meets a high-class woman when the steamer draws to the dock.

The debonair woman lit up every room she walked into. She was personable and happy, and everyone knew her name. 

Overall, the word debonair (adj., deb bonne nair) is a 13th century word that means suave or urbane. This word is of Anglo-French and Indo-European roots. Disclaimer: the word is uncommon today, but still has its appropriate use cases. Try making flashcards to learn the meaning of this word!


  1. DEBONAIR Synonyms: 24 Synonyms & Antonyms for DEBONAIR | Thesaurus 
  2. UNSOPHISTICATED Synonyms: 43 Synonyms & Antonyms for UNSOPHISTICATED | Thesaurus 
  3. debonair | Origin and meaning of debonair | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  4. Debonair | Definition of Debonair | Merriam-Webster 
  5. debonair: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense