ci·​vil·​i·​ty | \ sə-ˈvi-lə-tē How to pronounce civility (audio) \
plural civilities

Definition of civility

1a : civilized conduct especially : courtesy, politeness bemoaned the decline of civility in our politics
b : a polite act or expression lacked the little civilities and hypocrisies of political society— Roy Jenkins The men briefly exchanged civilities before the meeting began.
2 archaic : training in the humanities

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Examples of civility in a Sentence

They greeted each other with the usual exchange of civilities. after the usual civilities, the parents and the principal had a serious talk about the boy

Recent Examples on the Web

Etiquette was part of the great wave of civilities books that rolled out across America in the 19th and 20th centuries. Constance Grady, Vox, "Decoding the wedding dress code," 27 June 2019 But then there’s the mean and insensitive snicker, Disrespectful and low on civility. Rachel Syme, The New Yorker, "Bette Midler Looks Back on Her Autobiographical, Fantastical Children’s Book, “The Saga of Baby Divine”," 25 June 2019 Whatever civility the Mississippi senator extended to a young white Northerner like him did not reach his own black constituents. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Joe Biden’s Racial Dog Whistle," 20 June 2019 But the best civility projects don’t try to eliminate differences. Nr Interview, National Review, "A Political Renewal?," 11 June 2019 The two participated in a discussion moderated by LaRose’s chief of staff, discussing elections issues and political civility, and spoke with reporters afterward. Andrew J. Tobias,, "Ohio’s Secretary of State says he’s not endorsing anyone in 2020," 18 June 2019 In the Syrian writer Osama Alomar’s tales, the norm of social behavior isn’t justice or civility, but eat or be eaten. Alexander Knysh, The New York Review of Books, "Robyn Creswell," 7 Mar. 2019 None of the potential Democratic candidates for the presidency is known for civility, and one can easily imagine the mayhem that will ensue. Joseph Epstein, WSJ, "If Trump Were a Poet, He’d Be Rudyard Kipling," 26 Dec. 2018 Trump’s enablers in Congress helped put an end to the madness because something more important (to them) than the rule of law, civility, ethics, equality, global stability, mature policymaking, and the environment was at stake: Money. Timothy L. O'brien, The Denver Post, "O’Brien: Donald Trump’s failures — like his abandoned tariffs on Mexico — make him even more dangerous," 10 June 2019

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

1533, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for civility

see civil

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Statistics for civility

Last Updated

13 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for civility

The first known use of civility was in 1533

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More Definitions for civility



English Language Learners Definition of civility

: polite, reasonable, and respectful behavior
: polite actions and words


ci·​vil·​i·​ty | \ sə-ˈvi-lə-tē How to pronounce civility (audio) \
plural civilities

Kids Definition of civility

1 : polite behavior The sparrows showed no kindness or civility to one another …— Brian Jacques, Redwall
2 : a polite act or thing to say He offered no civilities, not even a hello.

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More from Merriam-Webster on civility

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with civility

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for civility

Spanish Central: Translation of civility

Nglish: Translation of civility for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of civility for Arabic Speakers

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