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 At the same time, the civility and dedication of people like Chris Darden, the meteorologist in charge of the Birmingham National Weather Service office, is pretty remarkable. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Email release reveals chaos sowed by President Trump’s hurricane tweets," 1 Feb. 2020 The Barcelona team had asked its fans to behave with civility and not to affect the match. Fox News, "At highly anticipated Barcelona-Real Madrid soccer match, riot police and protesters clash outside," 19 Dec. 2019 Though rather sanctimonious, Mr Biden is rightly known for civility and patience. The Economist, "The stickiness of Joe Biden," 5 Dec. 2019 Remember when Trump made his dramatic entrance, riding down an escalator, foreshadowing what would be the downward trajectory of what passes for civility and decency in politics?, "On Patrick, conventional wisdom might just be wrong - The Boston Globe," 15 Nov. 2019 But the Democratic culture of intra-party civility and deference to party elders has frayed significantly over the past few years. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "Julián Castro Is Not Here to Make Friends," 13 Sep. 2019 Some day, all this respect and civility will render pro football unrecognizable. Gary Peterson, The Mercury News, "Broncos-Raiders respect-fest is civil behavior, but is it football?," 5 Sep. 2019 But there were glimmers of bipartisan civility: After the trial adjourned for the day, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was spotted shaking hands with Schiff. Petra Cahill, NBC News, "Day Two of Senate impeachment trial, coronavirus shutters three Chinese cities, and Eli Manning retires: The Morning Rundown," 23 Jan. 2020 Additionally, digital civility will sit side by side with the quality of the tech and experience. Michelle Ma, WSJ, "The Workplace of 2050, According to Experts," 8 Jan. 2020

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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Time Traveler for civility

Time Traveler

The first known use of civility was in 1533

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Statistics for civility

Last Updated

9 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Civility.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for civility


How to pronounce civility (audio)

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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