civil disobedience


Definition of civil disobedience

: refusal to obey governmental demands or commands especially as a nonviolent and usually collective means of forcing concessions from the government

Examples of civil disobedience in a Sentence

In an act of civil disobedience, the family sent its tax money to an antiwar organization. A student organization is encouraging civil disobedience as a way to get the university to change its policies.

Recent Examples on the Web

To critics, the occupation and destruction of the Legislative Council building was a violent turn in events that go against the ethos of peaceful demonstration and civil disobedience. Mary Hui, Quartz, "How to understand the symbolic occupation—and destruction—of Hong Kong’s legislature," 2 July 2019 During the height of intense debate in the state over SB 1070 in 2010, Garcia was among many people who displayed acts of civil disobedience to bring attention to what was the country's harshest anti-immigrant law at the time. Jessica Boehm, azcentral, "Phoenix police union 'likes' Facebook comment alleging Latino councilman takes cartel money," 28 June 2019 The best outcome is one that seeks to respect legitimate religious-liberty concerns without requiring either litigation or civil disobedience. Barton Swaim, WSJ, "The Turnabout on Religious Freedom," 21 June 2019 Scattered by the bloody assault, protesters vowed to keep up their campaign, suspending talks and calling for a general strike and civil disobedience. Bassam Hatoum And Samy Magdy,, "At least 35 people dead as Sudan's ruling military moves against pro-democracy demonstrators," 3 June 2019 The students encouraged supporters to ramp up protests and engage in acts of civil disobedience if Lam ignored the deadline. David Pierson,, "Hong Kong’s leader ignores call to retract extradition bill. More protests may come," 20 June 2019 The group is part of a worldwide activist network committed to nonviolent civil disobedience as a means to force a conversation on addressing climate change. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "Extinction Rebellion Climate Activists Glued Themselves to the Universal Studios Globe in Los Angeles," 23 Apr. 2019 This year, which marks the bicentennial of his birth, has focused, rightly, on a life dedicated to nature in its multiple and luminous forms, and his ground-breaking call to civil disobedience. The New York Review of Books, "Ariel Dorfman," 17 Jan. 2019 After each chapter throughout the book, there are discussion questions aimed at prompting readers to engage in their communities — through everything from Bible study to civil disobedience. Tom Montgomery Fate,, "Do you believe in God? Then you have a moral duty to fight climate change, writes Jim Antal," 18 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'civil disobedience.' 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 civil disobedience

1866, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for civil disobedience

Last Updated

15 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for civil disobedience

The first known use of civil disobedience was in 1866

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More Definitions for civil disobedience

civil disobedience


English Language Learners Definition of civil disobedience

: refusal to obey laws as a way of forcing the government to do or change something

civil disobedience

civil dis·​obe·​di·​ence

Legal Definition of civil disobedience

: refusal to obey governmental demands or commands especially as a nonviolent and usually collective means of forcing concessions from the government

More from Merriam-Webster on civil disobedience

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for civil disobedience Encyclopedia article about civil disobedience

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