Evolution of Etiquette - Introduction


Etiquettes is a set of guidelines that, when followed properly, creates a positive impression in the minds of the people you interact with. In addition to that, etiquettes also make a person behave in a professional manner and respond to situations in the most appropriate manner possible.

The word “etiquette” comes from the old French term estiquette which meant “ticket, label”. This development comes from the then-common practice of carrying cards printed with instructions on how to maintain proper behavior in courts. Later, the rich and elite decided to use this method.

Instead of sending an invitation card which just mentioned the date and timing of the party, they started adding additional information on the different courses, a map of the mansion, where to park their carriages, etc. Others followed suit and soon public houses carried a set of instructions on their entrance doors on what conduct they expect their visitors to follow.

Later the pronunciation of the word changed from estiquette to etiquette, which was the result of vowel-corruption. Because the usage of this word was not limited to cards anymore, and a few standards that were hitherto followed only in elite households had now become part of everyday life, “etiquette” gradually changed to accommodate represent the term “prescribed behavior”.

Etiquette vs. Manners vs. Courtesy

Because it’s used interchangeably in conversations, many people tend to do mistakes between the usage of words “etiquette”, “manners”, and “courtesy”. Let’s find out what they mean −


Courtesy is the act of being polite and doing what the person thinks is the right thing at the given time. Earlier, the act of offering one’s seat to a lady passenger was considered a courtesy, however these stances undergo change with the advancing of time. A modern day example of courteous behavior would be keeping the door of an automatic-operated lift open for a colleague to be able to walk inside the lift.


It is the code of conduct that people in different social circles are expected to adhere to. It’s a set of instructions that might not be written out, but are paid equal importance to written rules. Etiquette specifies how a person should behave in a given circle so as to leave a positive impression on everyone present.


Manners is a neutral word, which means it in itself means only “actions”. That’s the reason we use the words “good, bad” before them to give them a direction. So when you get irritated by someone being impolite and angrily ask him “Don’t you have any manners!” and he replied “Yes”, he could actually be right.

Everyone has manners, but depending on the upbringing, environment, and education, he could have either good manners or bad ones. In short, etiquette teaches us how we should behave, and manners are how we ultimately do.