cit·i·zen | \ ˈsi-tə-zən also -sən \

Definition of citizen 

1 : an inhabitant of a city or town especially : one entitled to the rights and privileges of a freeman

2a : a member of a state

b : a native or naturalized person who owes allegiance to a government and is entitled to protection from it She was an American citizen but lived most of her life abroad.

3 : a civilian as distinguished from a specialized servant of the state Soldiers were sent to protect the citizens.

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Other words from citizen

citizenly \-zən-lē also-sən- \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for citizen


burgher, townie (or towny), townsman, villager



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Choose the Right Synonym for citizen

citizen, subject, national mean a person owing allegiance to and entitled to the protection of a sovereign state. citizen is preferred for one owing allegiance to a state in which sovereign power is retained by the people and sharing in the political rights of those people. the rights of a free citizen subject implies allegiance to a personal sovereign such as a monarch. the king's subjects national designates one who may claim the protection of a state and applies especially to one living or traveling outside that state. American nationals working in the Middle East

Examples of citizen in a Sentence

She was a United States citizen but lived most of her life abroad. a group of Japanese citizens

Recent Examples on the Web

The fact that the UK already offers its citizens some core data protections gives the ICO's investigation teeth. Issie Lapowsky, WIRED, "UK Regulators May Fine Facebook Over Cambridge Analytica," 10 July 2018 This raises issues for U.S. citizens living abroad because of IRS problems with international mail. Laura Saunders, WSJ, "Thousands of Americans Will Be Denied a Passport Because of Unpaid Taxes," 6 July 2018 Hundreds of people became new U.S. citizens on Independence Day during a ceremony in downtown Mesa just hours before the July 4 fireworks. Brieanna J Frank, azcentral, "July 4th naturalization ceremony in Mesa welcomes 313 new citizens," 4 July 2018 Carl Court/Getty Images The Supreme Court just decided to uphold President Donald Trump’s travel ban, which prevents some citizens from five Muslim-majority countries — Syria, Iran, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia — from entering the US. Alex Ward, Vox, "Awkward: the upheld travel ban still applies to North Korea, too," 26 June 2018 So far, Proposition A is the only citizen initiative certified for 2018 ballots, but other issues could end up on the ballot, including raising the minimum wage, legalizing medical marijuana and instituting ethics and redistricting reforms. Allison Kite, kansascity, "Unions give big to block ‘right to work’ in expensive Missouri ballot initiative race," 25 June 2018 In Prospect Park, members of the Feminist Bird Club did their bit for this enormous citizen-scientist data collection effort. Penelope Green, New York Times, "Young Urban Birders, Open Your Hearts to the Treetops!," 23 June 2018 These offices were run by citizens of the home country, many of whom had studied in the United States or had some other tie there. Amanda Laugesen, Smithsonian, "This Cold War-Era Publishing House Wanted To Share American Values With the World," 13 July 2018 The first step in building a democracy is for citizens to have a very strong awareness of their oppression. Vivienne Walt, Time, "Meet 4 Crusaders Who Are Keeping the Dream of Democracy Alive," 12 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'citizen.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of citizen

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for citizen

Middle English citizein, from Anglo-French citezein, alteration of citeien, from cité city

Anglo-French citezein, alteration of Old French citeien, from cité city

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Phrases Related to citizen

second-class citizen

Statistics for citizen

Last Updated

19 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for citizen

The first known use of citizen was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for citizen



English Language Learners Definition of citizen

: a person who legally belongs to a country and has the rights and protection of that country

: a person who lives in a particular place


cit·i·zen | \ ˈsi-tə-zən \

Kids Definition of citizen

1 : a person who lives in a particular place the citizens of Boston

2 : a person who legally belongs to, gives allegiance to, and has the rights and protections of a country



Legal Definition of citizen 

1 : a native or naturalized individual who owes allegiance to a government (as of a state or nation) and is entitled to the enjoyment of governmental protection and to the exercise of civil rights — see also Scott v. Sandford — compare resident

Note: Under the Fourteenth Amendment, “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.” A person born outside of the U.S. to parents who were born or naturalized in the U.S. is also a citizen of the U.S. A corporation is not considered a citizen for purposes of the privileges and immunities clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. A corporation is, however, deemed a citizen of the state in which it is incorporated or has its principal place of business for purposes of diversity jurisdiction.

2 : a resident of a town or state who is also a U.S. native or was naturalized in the U.S.

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More from Merriam-Webster on citizen

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for citizen

Spanish Central: Translation of citizen

Nglish: Translation of citizen for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of citizen for Arabic Speakers

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