adjective civ·il \ˈsi-vəl\

: of or relating to the people who live in a country

: of or relating to the regular business of the people in a city, town, state, etc. : not connected to the military or to a religion

: polite but not friendly : only as polite as a person needs to be in order to not be rude

Full Definition of CIVIL

a :  of or relating to citizens
b :  of or relating to the state or its citizenry <civil strife>
a :  civilized <civil society>
b :  adequate in courtesy and politeness :  mannerly <a civil question>
a :  of, relating to, or based on civil law
b :  relating to private rights and to remedies sought by action or suit distinct from criminal proceedings
c :  established by law
:  of, relating to, or involving the general public, their activities, needs, or ways, or civic affairs as distinguished from special (as military or religious) affairs
of time :  based on the mean sun and legally recognized for use in ordinary affairs

Examples of CIVIL

  1. They got married in a civil ceremony at city hall.
  2. It was hard to be civil when I felt so angry.
  3. She was barely civil to me.

Origin of CIVIL

Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin civilis, from civis
First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of CIVIL

civil, polite, courteous, gallant, chivalrous mean observant of the forms required by good breeding. civil often suggests little more than the avoidance of overt rudeness <owed the questioner a civil reply>. polite commonly implies polish of speech and manners and sometimes suggests an absence of cordiality <if you can't be pleasant, at least be polite>. courteous implies more actively considerate or dignified politeness <clerks who were unfailingly courteous to customers>. gallant and chivalrous imply courteous attentiveness especially to women. gallant suggests spirited and dashing behavior and ornate expressions of courtesy <a gallant suitor of the old school>. chivalrous suggests high-minded and self-sacrificing behavior <a chivalrous display of duty>.

Other Government and Politics Terms

agent provocateur, agitprop, autarky, cabal, egalitarianism, federalism, hegemony, plenipotentiary, popular sovereignty, socialism

Rhymes with CIVIL

CIVIL Defined for Kids


adjective civ·il \ˈsi-vəl\

Definition of CIVIL for Kids

:  of or relating to citizens <civil rights>
:  of or relating to matters within a country
:  of or relating to the regular business of citizens or government that is not connected to the military or a religion
:  polite without being friendly <Those men, they used to be best friends. Now they can't be civil with each other. — Karen Hesse, Out of the Dust>
:  relating to laws about private rights rather than criminal laws <She brought a civil lawsuit against the maker of the defective car.>
civ·il·ly adverb <You must treat the other team civilly, at least.>

Synonym Discussion of CIVIL

civil, polite, and courteous mean following the rules of good behavior. civil is used for showing only enough proper behavior to avoid being actually rude. <I know you're angry but try to be civil.> polite is used of good manners and thoughtfulness. <The host was polite and made us feel at home.> courteous is usually used for a politeness that is somewhat dignified. <The salesclerks were trained to be courteous always.>
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