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 His humor always brought civility to emotional and chaotic situations. New York Times, "Searching for Candor in a Dreary, Uncertain and Dishonest Time," 13 Mar. 2020 Individuals who are passionate about politics tend to engage in some form of tribalism in which their loyalty to a certain group has created a breakdown in civility. Siraj Hashmi, Washington Examiner, "Tribalism and civility in politics," 2 Mar. 2020 The keynote speaker at the 2020 National Prayer Breakfast Thursday was Harvard's Arthur Brooks, who took as his theme a call to love — not toleration or civility but love — for our political enemies. Bonnie Kristian, TheWeek, "Why Trump can't believe his opponents' prayers," 6 Feb. 2020 Earlier this fall, the Committee held a hearing to explore recommendations for promoting civility and encouraging more collaboration in Congress. Tom Graves, Time, "How to Make Congress Work Better for the American People," 26 Nov. 2019 Many organizations have workplace civility policies outlining disrespectful and harmful behaviors. Johnny C. Taylor Jr., USA TODAY, "Can my co-worker use profane language toward me? Ask HR," 11 Dec. 2019 The City Commission will decide at its meeting 7 p.m. Monday whether Gelin violated the city’s civility code, said city spokeswoman Elise Boston. Lisa J. Huriash,, "Tamarac may reprimand commissioner who berated deputy during awards ceremony," 4 Oct. 2019 At the same time, the civility and dedication of people like Chris Darden, the meteorologist in charge of the Birmingham National Weather Service office, is pretty remarkable. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Email release reveals chaos sowed by President Trump’s hurricane tweets," 1 Feb. 2020 The Barcelona team had asked its fans to behave with civility and not to affect the match. Fox News, "At highly anticipated Barcelona-Real Madrid soccer match, riot police and protesters clash outside," 19 Dec. 2019

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

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The first known use of civility was in 1533

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Statistics for civility

Last Updated

22 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Civility.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for civility


How to pronounce civility (audio)

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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