cit·​i·​zen | \ ˈsi-tə-zən How to pronounce citizen (audio) also -sən \

Essential Meaning of citizen

1 : a person who legally belongs to a country and has the rights and protection of that country She was a United States citizen but lived most of her life abroad. a group of Japanese citizens I've been treated like a second-class citizen. [=someone who is not given the same rights as other people]
2 : a person who lives in a particular place the citizens of Boston

Full 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.

Other Words from citizen

citizenly \ ˈsi-​tə-​zən-​lē How to pronounce citizen (audio) also  -​sən-​ \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for citizen



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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 prince will defend his case in New York as a private citizen, Buckingham Palace has said. Omar Abdel-baqui, WSJ, 20 Jan. 2022 His bio on the royal family's website also now reflects his new status as a private citizen. Simon Perry,, 19 Jan. 2022 The lawsuit by Joseph Kennedy, a Bremerton High School coach who was placed on administrative leave in 2015, has become a cause célèbre among religious conservative groups who asserted he was denied his free speech rights as a private citizen. John Fritze, USA TODAY, 15 Jan. 2022 The Prince will, the Palace noted in its brief announcement, defend the case against him as a private citizen. Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker, 14 Jan. 2022 No reason an average citizen should even have access to an assault rifle. Roy S. Johnson |, al, 13 Jan. 2022 The planet Viltrum, in which every single citizen is Superman, is explicitly fascist, and unlike the chinless skinheads in our universe, these people really are physically superior. Dani Di Placido, Forbes, 29 Dec. 2021 One of the great things about our democracy is that every citizen can decide to run for public office. Brigid Kennedy, The Week, 28 Dec. 2021 Trump is now a private citizen, and executive privilege isn't about protecting one man from embarrassment. Norman Eisen, CNN, 11 Nov. 2021

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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Time Traveler for citizen

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near citizen



citizen's arrest

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Last Updated

24 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Citizen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for citizen


cit·​i·​zen | \ ˈsi-tə-zən How to pronounce citizen (audio) \

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

More from Merriam-Webster on citizen

Nglish: Translation of citizen for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of citizen for Arabic Speakers


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