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 And in the 17th century, civility really meant civil society in the sense of bringing people together. Karin Wulf, Smithsonian Magazine, "A 1722 Murder Spurred Native Americans’ Pleas for Justice in Early America," 28 Apr. 2021 Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, and Richard Harris play characters carved out of granite — monuments of a bygone era that maybe should be swept aside by civility and industrialization. Tim Grierson, Vulture, "Every Oscar Best Picture Winner, Ranked," 26 Apr. 2021 The mayor has the opportunity, and responsibility, to set a tone of civility and respect. Anchorage Daily News, "Anchorage mayor candidate Q&As: The past year has been marked by increasing civic discord in Anchorage. What would you do to reduce frustration, distrust and anger that increasingly has characterized civic conversation?," 14 Mar. 2021 Our graduates embody the values of honor, respect, civility, self-discipline, and professionalism. Washington Post, "VMI removes statue of Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson after long resistance," 7 Dec. 2020 Our graduates embody the values of honor, respect, civility, self-discipline, and professionalism. Zoe Christen Jones, CBS News, "Virginia Military Institute removes statue of Confederate general Stonewall Jackson from campus," 7 Dec. 2020 These Mustangs deliver the right mix of retro design, daily civility, and speed. Scott Oldham, Car and Driver, "Most Reliable Used Cars," 9 Nov. 2020 State leaders and activists shared a sense of validation that millions of Americans saw in the former vice president a herald of civility, professionalism and American values. Daniela Altimari,, "A new president: Joy, relief sweep across Connecticut as Joe Biden defeats Donald Trump to become 46th U.S. president," 7 Nov. 2020 Oh -- and, at times, civility, peace and not feeling like the world is imploding. Lisa Respers France, CNN, "Feel-good content is what we need right now. You're welcome," 5 Nov. 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

10 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Civility.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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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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