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

Some blame President Trump for the decline of civility. Greg Gutfeld, Fox News, "Gutfeld on Dana's slip-up," 2 Aug. 2018 But when that balance is gone ... your civility gives them cover for evil. Aja Romano, Vox, "The new troll: how bots and puppets make internet outrage seem louder than it is," 24 Oct. 2018 In her speech, the Queen called for civility and respect in what many interpreted as a reference to the increasingly toxic Brexit debate in England. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Queen Elizabeth Breaks Important Royal "Rule" by Talking About Brexit," 27 Jan. 2019 The gunman who murdered five at the Capital Gazette offices appeared to have had an obsessive vendetta against the newspaper, but the attack happened just as the nation was in the middle of a debate on civility in public discourse. Jen Kirby, Vox, "Mayor says Trump declined to lower flags for victims of Capital Gazette shooting," 3 July 2018 Lack of civility in internal debates on both sides of the diversity debate prompted Google to update its policies, the company said. Jessica Guynn, USA TODAY, "Google toughens rules on internal harassment after James Damore firing roils staff," 27 June 2018 But he is respected as someone who placed great importance on civility and implored his candidates to try to work with the other side. Jason Williams,, "PX column: Democratic Party leader ends quarter-century in a thankless, unpaid job," 8 June 2018 Supposedly, The Purge has led to unprecedented economic growth and widespread social civility. Tasha Robinson, The Verge, "The new horror film canon (and where to stream it)," 1 Nov. 2018 While insults on receipts predate Trump’s presidency, his rhetoric has been linked to a general breakdown in civility as well as to a rise in hate crimes. Nadra Nittle, Vox, "Racial slurs and fat-shaming insults keep popping up on receipts. Is Trump worsening the trend?," 29 Oct. 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

9 Mar 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

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).


grandiloquent, ostentatious, or bombastic

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