civ·​i·​li·​za·​tion | \ ˌsi-və-lə-ˈzā-shən How to pronounce civilization (audio) \

Definition of civilization

1a : a relatively high level of cultural and technological development specifically : the stage of cultural development at which writing and the keeping of written records is attained
b : the culture characteristic of a particular time or place the impact of European civilization on the lands they colonized
2 : the process of becoming civilized civilization is a slow process with many failures and setbacks
3a : refinement of thought, manners, or taste exhibiting a high level of civilization
b : a situation of urban comfort Our African safari was quite interesting, but it was great to get back to civilization.

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Other Words from civilization

civilizational \ ˌsi-​və-​lə-​ˈzā-​shnəl How to pronounce civilization (audio) , -​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective

Synonyms for civilization


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Examples of civilization in a Sentence

the impact of technical advancements on civilization We are studying ancient Greek civilization. a book about life on the planet after wars have destroyed civilization
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Recent Examples on the Web To a time when some of civilization's greatest monuments were as pristine as the day of their ribbon-cutting ceremonies and when— even better—you'd be the only visitor, with nary a selfie stick or souvenir vendor in sight. Holly Monahan, Travel + Leisure, "You Can Visit Ancient Pompeii, Rome, and Athens on This Time-traveling Virtual Tour," 8 May 2021 On that front, Shawky’s work certainly instigates morally urgent and far-reaching reflections on conflict, conquest and civilization. Benjamin Lima, Dallas News, "History, told by puppets: Wael Shawky’s rich tale of the Crusades comes to the Modern," 6 May 2021 Or was the Spanish flu a preview of an even darker future, in which some rogue virus could cause a collapse of civilization itself? New York Times, "How Humanity Gave Itself an Extra Life," 27 Apr. 2021 In the game, it was created by the mysterious and technologically advanced Isu civilization, which is entrenched in the lore of the games. Amy Briscoe, Wired, "A Linguistic Guide to Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla," 21 Apr. 2021 In considering civilization’s origins, the museum has gone back to square one. Los Angeles Times, "Review: Getty Villa reopens with ancient treasures from the Louvre," 21 Apr. 2021 Will is a veteran with PTSD who can no longer stand living in civilization. Jordan Kisner, The Atlantic, "The Women Reinventing the Western," 19 Apr. 2021 The golden age of classical Roman civilization occurred during a warm period. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, "Climate and Central Banks: Regulators Doing What They Shouldn’t," 17 Apr. 2021 But while the Mississippians may have cut down tens of thousands of trees, the soil samples analyzed by Rankin suggest that these actions weren’t intensive enough to trigger civilization-ending flooding. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, "Why Did Cahokia, One of North America’s Largest Pre-Hispanic Cities, Collapse?," 17 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'civilization.' 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 civilization

1760, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for civilization

see civil

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Time Traveler for civilization

Time Traveler

The first known use of civilization was in 1760

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Statistics for civilization

Last Updated

11 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Civilization.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for civilization



English Language Learners Definition of civilization

: the condition that exists when people have developed effective ways of organizing a society and care about art, science, etc.
: a particular well-organized and developed society
: all the societies of the world


civ·​i·​li·​za·​tion | \ ˌsi-və-lə-ˈzā-shən How to pronounce civilization (audio) \

Kids Definition of civilization

1 : an advanced stage (as in art, science, and government) in the development of society
2 : the way of life of a people Greek civilization
3 : all the societies of the world the end of civilization

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