|James Stewart: a man of famously good disposition|
Adjective & noun. Also debonnair, debonaire. Middle English.
[Old French debonaire (modern débonnaire), from de bon aire of good disposition.]
A1 adj. obsolete. Of a gentle disposition, meek, gracious, courteous. ME-L17
A2 adj. Pleasant in manner, affable, urbane,; cheerful, carefree, unembarrassed. E18
B1 noun. obsolete. A courteous being or person. Only in LME
B2 noun. Debonair character or disposition. LME-M18
One might think of debonair as simply denoting style, perhaps with a dash of suave confidence and charisma thrown in. It runs deeper than that, however, for to be truly de bon aire, a gentleman must also be of gentle disposition, courteous, gracious, and a thoroughly corking chap to be around. Which is rather like the word itself; debonair could, with its cultured French roots, think rather too much of itself. Never a word to cause a scene, however, it lets you spell it debonnair, debonaire or debonair, all without making the slightest fuss and still looking spiffingly ab fab at the end of it. What an absolute peach of a word.
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