ci·vil·i·ty | \sə-ˈvi-lə-tē \
plural civilities

Definition of civility 

1 archaic : training in the humanities

2a : 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.

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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

Tuesday afternoon, Trump supporters and advocates protested outside of the Red Hen asking for tolerance and civility. Ashley May, USA TODAY, "Red Hen owner, who asked Sarah Sanders to leave restaurant, resigns from Virginia business group," 27 June 2018 The issue of what passes for political civility in 2018 has been eagerly stoked by Trump, who has embraced the cultural battles playing out everywhere from restaurant tables to football fields to late-night comedy. Jonathan Lemire, The Seattle Times, "Insults and rancor: Dems risk treading on Trump’s home field," 25 June 2018 Iowa’s current governor, Kim Reynolds, praised Mr. Ray’s leadership. ‘‘His civility, courage, and common-sense governing set a high standard for those who followed,’’ Reynolds said Sunday., "Robert Ray, 89; helped Vietnam refugees relocate to Iowa," 8 July 2018 Today, the Supreme Court after Anthony Kennedy, the politics of civility, and Sean Spicer’s next act. Frank Rich, Daily Intelligencer, "Rot on the Right, Green Shoots on the Left," 28 June 2018 McBride clarified his comment about 'restoring civility' and emphasized the statement is not directed towards Hutton. Karen Pilarski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Former Tosa Alderman McBride announces state Assembly bid," 17 Apr. 2018 There are reasons that each side wins and each side loses, but for now, excessive civility is neither party’s problem. David French, National Review, "Does the Left Lose because It’s Too Civil?," 23 Jan. 2018 On Saturday afternoon, however, the independent bookstore in Virginia's capital became the next stop in the roving battle over civility in politics, after a customer spotted former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon inside and confronted him. Amy B Wang,, "Bookstore owner defends calling police on woman who told Steve Bannon he was 'a piece of trash'," 8 July 2018 The pair’s exchange has prompted further discussion about civility in political discourse. Time, "President Trump Continues Attacking Maxine Waters After She Cancels Events Over Death Threats," 3 July 2018

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 1

History and Etymology for civility

see civil

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Statistics for civility

Last Updated

19 Oct 2018

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

civilities : polite actions and words


ci·vil·i·ty | \sə-ˈvi-lə-tē \
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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Comments on civility

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


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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