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

His crusade for civility has been a lot of talk and little action. Dylan Scott, Vox, "Brett Kavanaugh is Jeff Flake’s most important test," 3 Oct. 2018 The gesture of civility stood out in the increasingly sharp-edged world of modern American politics. Siobhan Hughes, WSJ, "Sen. John McCain, a War Hero Who Became a Political Heavyweight, Dies at 81," 25 Aug. 2018 When things are normal and working as intended, civility is part of maintaining balance. Aja Romano, Vox, "The new troll: how bots and puppets make internet outrage seem louder than it is," 24 Oct. 2018 Not only because Waters, who lived through the civil rights movement, understands that oppressors do not buckle to civility. Solomon Jones,, "Maxine Waters deserves better from her party | Solomon Jones," 27 June 2018 Published in August 1963, while King was imprisoned for his role in a campaign of marches and sit-ins in Birmingham, Ala., the letter was a direct response to a plea by eight white clergymen for what amounted to, yes, civility. Michael Hiltzik,, "Martin Luther King Jr. had a few words to say about calls for 'civility'," 26 June 2018 Both sides are too entrenched, and too invested in such attacks, to expect a return to civility. Howard Kurtz, Fox News, "Peter Fonda's unhinged tweets spark debate about crude attacks," 22 June 2018 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

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

30 Nov 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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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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