Approaching pragmatics as the study of the linguistic expression of social meaning, this chapter discusses politeness from a perspective that attempts to reconcile our everyday understanding (as evident in terms like ‘rude’) with linguistic theory (as evident in terms like ‘impolite’). The chapter accepts Brown and Levinson’s insight that politeness phenomena are a departure from maximally economical communication and argues that we should see politeness as acts of linguistic generosity, with rudeness/impoliteness evidence of a failure to recognize the addressee’s wish to be acknowledged as a fellow human being. The chapter works through Brown and Levinson’s rationalistic theory in detail, very often returning to real life data considered in previous chapters as evidence of politeness strategies, before turning to the various sociopragmatically aware approaches to (im)politeness that dominate current debate, and the view of politeness as an addressee perception rather than speaker strategic. In considering real world examples, the chapter explores contemporary notions such as being rude politely and being polite rudely. The final section discusses the place of politeness theory in linguistic pragmatics and draws attention to the ways in which Brown and Levinson’s theory was ahead of its time, before discussing the difference between the post-Gricean approach to Grice’s theory and ‘after Brown and Levinson’ approaches to their original proposal.