civ·i·li·za·tion | \ ˌsi-və-lə-ˈzā-shən \

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 \-shnəl, -shə-nᵊl \ adjective

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

There are only two catches: The aliens choose who will represent Earth, and whoever ends up last in the contest gets their whole civilization wiped out. Gary K. Wolfe,, "With 'Blackfish City,' Sam J. Miller makes impressive sci-fi debut, plus more reviews," 24 Apr. 2018 YouTube has become our civilization’s collective visual memory. Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, "YouTube Removes the 'Hail, Trump' Video From Search," 20 Mar. 2018 Greenery is present in all these shots, though there is a progression from the woods to civilization as trucks, railroad tracks, highways and heavily industrialized inland ports start to appear. Boyd Van Hoeij, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Walden': Film Review | Karlovy Vary 2018," 12 July 2018 His one concession to civilization was abandoning his frying pan to eat in San Francisco restaurants. Gary Kamiya,, "The original Grizzly Adams kept his bears on a chain in SF," 7 July 2018 Indeed, consider the point broadly enough and the garden marked the beginning of Western civilization overall, agriculture being the large, utilitarian version of today’s flower beds and vegetable patches. Stephanie Hanes, The Christian Science Monitor, "'Life in the Garden' lovingly recalls the place of gardens in an author's life," 14 June 2018 These seemingly whimsical elements demonstrate that Irish’s view of history is broad and generous, and not a rote condemnation of Western civilization. Thomas Hine,, "'Antipodes' at Lemon Hill shows a way forward: Philly's mansions don't need to be musty antiques," 25 Apr. 2018 Liberals informed us that a verbal defense of Western civilization is now socially unacceptable, but most conservatives liked it. Colin Dueck, National Review, "How to Defend the West," 7 Feb. 2018 The precision timekeepers that were subsequently developed resolved the critical problem of finding a ship's position at sea and went on to play key roles in the industrial revolution and the advance of Western civilization. William J. H. Andrewes, Scientific American, "Time Keeping Has a Long, Colorful History," 23 Jan. 2012

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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Statistics for civilization

Last Updated

8 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for civilization

The first known use of civilization was in 1760

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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 \

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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Comments on civilization

What made you want to look up civilization? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a magnificent or impressive array

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