civil defense


: the system of protective measures and emergency relief activities conducted by civilians in case of hostile attack, sabotage, or natural disaster

Example Sentences

She's in training to be part of the local civil defense. the head of civil defense
Recent Examples on the Web Some said civil defense workers did not arrive until later in the afternoon of the earthquake. Sarah Dadouch, Washington Post, 20 Feb. 2023 But with the Ukrainian military quickly overwhelmed, the civil defense units disbanded. Michael Fiorentino, NBC News, 24 Feb. 2023 But the center’s few vehicles were needed for civil defense purposes and thus unavailable. Dr. Richard Kurin, Smithsonian Magazine, 22 Feb. 2023 On Thursday, Greece's civil defense minister flew to southern Turkey to oversee the relief effort. Margherita Stancati, WSJ, 9 Feb. 2023 Tens of thousands of people in that area were newly homeless, said Raed Saleh, director of the White Helmets, a civil defense and rescue group that operates in areas outside of government control. Hwaida Saad, New York Times, 6 Feb. 2023 Taiwan has put its military on alert and staged civil defense drills, while the U.S. has deployed numerous naval assets in the area. Arkansas Online, 7 Aug. 2022 More than 220 people attended a community meeting last weekend that county civil defense officials held in Ocean View, a neighborhood that lava could reach in hours if molten rock erupts through vents on Mauna Loa's southwest flank. Audrey Mcavoy, USA TODAY, 28 Oct. 2022 The fire started Thursday afternoon on the ground floor of a six-story Hashem Foods Ltd. factory in Rupganj, east of the capital Dhaka, Debashis Bardhan, deputy director of the fire service and civil defense said. CNN, 10 July 2021 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1939, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of civil defense was in 1939

Dictionary Entries Near civil defense

Cite this Entry

“Civil defense.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition

civil defense

: protective actions and emergency relief activities carried on by civilians in case of enemy attack or natural disaster

More from Merriam-Webster on civil defense

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

Challenging Standardized Test Words

  • high school student holding a pencil leaning over a sat test
  • Despite the cacophony, the student tried to study.
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?