civil rights

plural noun

Definition of civil rights

: the nonpolitical rights of a citizen especially : the rights of personal liberty guaranteed to U.S. citizens by the 13th and 14th amendments to the Constitution and by acts of Congress was charged with violating the victim's civil rights

Examples of civil rights in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The Supreme Court ruled a month after Stephens’ death that her firing in 2013 violated the civil rights law. NBC News, "For transgender advocates, election stokes hopes and fears," 26 Oct. 2020 The motion asking Brnovich to recuse herself cited as an example the recusal of Judge Mary Murguia from a federal civil rights case involving former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Richard Ruelas, The Arizona Republic, "Judge stays on Backpage case; says her marriage to Arizona Attorney General immaterial," 26 Oct. 2020 In the twentieth century, more Asian immigrants and refugees arrived, and civil rights were extended to a broader swath of Americans. Hua Hsu, The New Yorker, "Are Asian Americans the Last Undecided Voters?," 26 Oct. 2020 Meanwhile, officers in the police department that funneled Floyd into the system had been given probation for homicide and civil rights violations. Washington Post, "Police were a part of George Floyd’s life from beginning to end, an experience uncommon for most Americans, except other Black men.," 26 Oct. 2020 Book One, the bestselling graphic novel by civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, who died in July, and Andrew Aydin. Holly Haber, Dallas News, "Promise House volunteers start book club for homeless and at-risk children," 26 Oct. 2020 Organizers of Election Protection, a national coalition of civil rights and voting rights groups, said the number of volunteers has quadrupled since the 2016 presidential election and the 2018 midterm elections. Ryan W. Miller, USA TODAY, "Voting 2020 live updates: New Hampshire won't ban armed voters; Boston drop box set on fire; thousands of lawyers offer free legal help," 26 Oct. 2020 Spotlight on Kamala Harris in new podcast Raised in Berkeley by civil rights activists, Sen. Kamala Harris started her career as a Bay Area prosecutor. Anna Buchmann,, "Bay Briefing: Windy, dry, dangerous — PG&E cuts power amid high wildfire risk," 26 Oct. 2020 Two mothers, one board The Sumter County of Ms. Whitehead’s youth was once a civil rights crossroads. Nicholas Casey, New York Times, "A Voting Rights Battle in a School Board ‘Coup’," 25 Oct. 2020

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

See More

First Known Use of civil rights

circa 1614, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for civil rights

see civil

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about civil rights

Time Traveler for civil rights

Time Traveler

The first known use of civil rights was circa 1614

See more words from the same year

Statistics for civil rights

Last Updated

29 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Civil rights.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for civil rights

civil rights


English Language Learners Definition of civil rights

: the rights that every person should have regardless of his or her sex, race, or religion

More from Merriam-Webster on civil rights

Nglish: Translation of civil rights for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about civil rights

Comments on civil rights

What made you want to look up civil rights? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Here Be Dragons: A Creature Identification Quiz

  • monster werewolf photo
  • Which is a synonym of werewolf?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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