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

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 Maxine Waters clashes with Jeb Hensarling over civility. Fox News, "FOX NEWS FIRST: The battle over the Supreme Court begins; Trump-Putin summit details to be revealed," 28 June 2018 In the wake of Sarah Sanders being asked to leave a Virginia restaurant, there's been a lot of talk about civility. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "The Capital Gazette is publishing on Friday. Damn straight it is," 28 June 2018 Indeed, transforming a conversation about systematic injustice into a conversation about civility towards the powerful is exactly what many of them want. Laura Hudson, The Verge, "Was it right to dox Stephen Miller? That’s the wrong question," 27 June 2018 The Hill notes that Marriott’s suspension comes at a time when the debate over civility in politics has become a hot button issue. Stephen A. Crockett Jr., The Root, "God's Favorite Intern, the One Who Cursed at the President, Suspended," 26 June 2018 The recent public shaming of three in restaurants has led to a debate about civility., "Today: ‘Zero Tolerance’s’ Family Plan," 26 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

7 Sep 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).


to make amends

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