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 The operation, which ended when police quelled the two-month act of civil disobedience, removed the women and boarded up the home. Sarah Ravani,, "Moms 4 Housing: D.A. won’t file criminal charges," 14 Feb. 2020 In the early 1960s, Seeger taught civil disobedience and progressive thought at the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee. Alicia Ault, Smithsonian Magazine, "Grammy Nod to Folkways’ Pete Seeger Collection Is a Fitting Tribute," 13 Feb. 2020 What became a large and sophisticated campaign of civil disobedience and protest began with a boycott of segregated city buses — a boycott instigated by the Montgomery Improvement Association, created by Abernathy and King. al, "Daughter of civil rights icon shares memories of ‘Uncle Martin’ and ‘Daddy’," 22 Jan. 2020 Meanwhile, without a legal way to resist the government’s emergency powers, people would resort to further civil disobedience. Los Angeles Times, "‘Hong Kongers, resist!’: A new cry as 14-year-old is shot by a cop and masks are banned at protests," 4 Oct. 2019 Protesters, for their part, vowed to step up acts of civil disobedience and demonstrations. Fox News, "Trump, on offensive, hosts New Mexico rally, aiming to turn the state red," 17 Sep. 2019 Senators battled each other over confidential documents, with Democrats threatening civil disobedience and Republican warning of severe consequences, and Judge Kavanaugh for a time becoming a spectator at his own confirmation. WSJ, "Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court Hearings -- Live Coverage," 7 Sep. 2018 He’s been arrested for civil disobedience about 40 times. Nick Tabor, Washington Post, "Can Shane Claiborne’s progressive version of evangelical Christianity catch on with a new generation?," 6 Jan. 2020 Already, there are calls for civil disobedience to resist such humiliation. The Economist, "India passes a bill purporting to help refugees. In fact, it seeks to hurt Muslims," 11 Dec. 2019

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of civil disobedience was in 1866

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Statistics for civil disobedience

Last Updated

25 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Civil disobedience.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2020.

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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

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

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