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 Despite the violence, protests and acts of civil disobedience continue, as many groups unite to call for democracy, and an end to decades of military influence and control over their country. Alan Taylor, The Atlantic, "Protests Continue in Myanmar, Despite Crackdown," 17 Mar. 2021 What had begun, the previous October, as civil disobedience against a metro-ticket price hike had escalated to encompass decades’ worth of political, economic, and social grievances, and the impact was everywhere. Daniel Alarcón, The New Yorker, "Chile at the Barricades," 5 Oct. 2020 The impact of the coup and civil disobedience movement, which has disrupted parts of the country's economy, is starting to sting. Helen Regan, CNN, "Fears grow for Myanmar residents in areas sealed off by military and under internet blackout," 17 Mar. 2021 To date, dock workers, railway workers, truckers and many civil servants, have joined the civil disobedience campaign against the junta. David Clark Scott, The Christian Science Monitor, "Monday Sunrise Briefing: Relief in winter-weary Texas," 22 Feb. 2021 By Friday, the civil disobedience campaign had harnessed the energy of students and even a few soldiers. New York Times, "To Fight or Hide: Fear Grips Myanmar With Military Back in Charge," 6 Feb. 2021 Any type of activity that involves violence, civil disobedience, or a breach of peace may be punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice or under state or federal law, the Army said. Abraham Mahshie, Washington Examiner, "National Guard protecting Biden inauguration vetted for extremist ideologies," 18 Jan. 2021 Ivory Coast’s state prosecutor accused opposition leaders of terrorism and murder over their calls for a civil disobedience campaign and a transitional government. Leanne De Bassompierre,, "Ivory Coast Accuses Opposition Leaders of Terrorism After Vote," 6 Nov. 2020 The deadly violence against protesters has drawn hundreds of thousands of people to join demonstrations and civil disobedience campaigns in towns and cities across the country. Helen Regan, CNN, "Myanmar military occupies hospitals and universities ahead of mass strike," 8 Mar. 2021

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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Time Traveler for civil disobedience

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The first known use of civil disobedience was in 1866

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Statistics for civil disobedience

Last Updated

4 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Civil disobedience.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2021.

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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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