cit·​i·​zen | \ ˈsi-tə-zən How to pronounce citizen (audio) 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 \ ˈsi-​tə-​zən-​lē How to pronounce citizenly (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 mine and the mining claim that authorizes it is owned by a firm based in Mumbai, India, that became a U.S. corporate citizen to maneuver through the Mining Law of 1872, which allows only U.S. citizens to stake claims. Debra Utacia Krol, The Arizona Republic, "Gold mine along Hassayampa River may imperil tribal cultural, riparian sites," 7 July 2020 Young, who became an American citizen earlier this year, has also been an outspoken critic of the president. Tyler Aquilina,, "Neil Young slams Trump's use of his songs at Mount Rushmore speech," 4 July 2020 Lopez-Owens, who migrated to the country from Mexico with her mother and sisters illegally and later became a U.S. citizen, now works as a law clerk at DeFur Voran. Amelia Pak-harvey, The Indianapolis Star, "Two Democrats seek vacant Indianapolis City-County Council seat on the east side," 2 July 2020 In 1998, The Oregonian/OregonLive chronicled the story of an Iranian couple, who was facing the choice of whether to leave their severely handicapped son, a U.S. citizen, in Portland if immigration authorities deported them. oregonlive, "A story in The Oregonian changed his family’s life forever, and set his career choice," 30 June 2020 There is also no preferential treatment afforded DACA recipients from the program, nor is there any discernable legal benefit for a corporation to hire a DACA recipient over a U.S. citizen. Matthew Brown, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Supreme Court decision doesn’t give DACA recipients jobs over U.S. citizens," 26 June 2020 Until children could return to schools and day-care facilities, Ms. Madrigal, a U.S. citizen, had to care for her sons who are too young to work in the fields and keep them occupied while fending off boredom. Lee A. Dean, The Christian Science Monitor, "For migrant farmworkers, coronavirus adds new burdens," 26 June 2020 By the time his son became an American citizen, the Cold War was long over., "Sergei Khrushchev, son of former Soviet premier, 84," 25 June 2020 Border agents had stopped one vehicle traveling on SR 80 and suspected that the driver, a U.S. citizen, was smuggling four unauthorized migrants inside. Rafael Carranza, azcentral, "Two people killed in rollover during Border Patrol chase near Douglas," 5 June 2020

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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Statistics for citizen

Last Updated

10 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Citizen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for citizen


How to pronounce citizen (audio)

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 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

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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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