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


freeman, national, subject


alien, noncitizen

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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

Asylum status can be the first step toward becoming a naturalized citizen, which involves a lengthy process. Erin Coulehan, Teen Vogue, "What Asylum Means, and Why People Seek It," 13 Nov. 2018 Once a year in November, British citizens (the Queen included) honor fallen troops by wearing a crimson poppy. Katie Robinson, Town & Country, "What Does Britain’s Remembrance Day Poppy Symbolize?," 7 Nov. 2018 Even with last night’s gains, women remain a significant minority in Congress, and women of color even more so; American halls of power remain overwhelmingly dominated by a minority of our citizens (white men). Jill Filipovic, Marie Claire, "Women Won Big Last Night. Now It's Time to Get to Work," 7 Nov. 2018 All Precinct 1 deputies in patrol will have free gun locks available to citizens, as well, the news release says. Victoria Cheyne, Houston Chronicle, "Free firearm safety kits to be distributed," 12 July 2018 Mark Acles, another Lafayette citizen, who grew up in a staunchly Republican home will cast his first Democrat vote in the 2018 election for Donnelly. Seth Slabaugh, Indianapolis Star, "Sen. Joe Donnelly needs to keep his pro-Trump voters. But can he?," 12 July 2018 Is the fact that somebody is speaking another language proof that somebody is (not) a U.S. citizen? Lisa Gutierrez, kansascity, "Posters told Omaha people to report ‘illegal aliens’ to ICE. Some call it harassment," 12 July 2018 Until Myanmar and Laos agree to accept the citizens, the State Department has stopped issuing certain types of visas to higher level officials. Laignee Barron, Time, "U.S. Imposes Visa Sanctions on Myanmar and Laos Over Their Refusal to Accept Deportees," 11 July 2018 East County businessman Nathan Cornett is the citizen who has called for Kalasho to resign — the subject of a Paul Kruze story for East County Magazine. Jeff Mcdonald,, "Reporter accuses El Cajon councilman of attempted assault involving 'attack dog'," 6 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

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Statistics for citizen

Last Updated

12 Dec 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.

History and Etymology for citizen

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

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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

Comments on citizen

What made you want to look up citizen? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a nest or breeding place

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