civ·​i·​li·​za·​tion ˌsi-və-lə-ˈzā-shən How to pronounce civilization (audio)
: 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
: the culture characteristic of a particular time or place
the impact of European civilization on the lands they colonized
: the process of becoming civilized
civilization is a slow process with many failures and setbacks
: refinement of thought, manners, or taste
exhibiting a high level of civilization
: a situation of urban comfort
Our African safari was quite interesting, but it was great to get back to civilization.
civilizational adjective

Example Sentences

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
Recent Examples on the Web Viewers quickly learn that threat doesn’t just impact Wakanda, with the film introducing another kingdom that relies on the metal, an Atlantis-like underwater civilization led by Namor (exquisitely played by Mexican actor Tenoch Huerta). Quinci Legardye, Harper's BAZAAR, 13 Nov. 2022 How many men in the history of the world have managed to have a wife and a mistress without damn near burning down civilization? Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic, 12 Nov. 2022 In 250, as the Roman Empire began to fall apart in Europe, Mayan civilization was steadily gaining in power and sophistication. Peter Saenger, WSJ, 11 Nov. 2022 But the search for Vibranium under the sea enrages Namor (Tenoch Huerta), the king of an underwater civilization called Talokan (changed from Atlantis in the comics), which puts him in conflict with Wakanda. Brendan Morrow, The Week, 10 Nov. 2022 This brings us back to the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and the ridiculous tomb inscribed with their ingredients, now awaiting discovery by whatever civilization may occupy the Pacific Northwest millennia from now. Miles Klee, Rolling Stone, 8 Nov. 2022 There’s the sense that civilization, too, is drifting away. Don Aucoin,, 7 Nov. 2022 Separated from his friends, Sonic must reunite with them by visiting all five of the islands while also unraveling the mystery surrounding the area’s ancient civilization. George Yang, Variety, 7 Nov. 2022 Musk’s image has won him a legion of adoring fans, many of whom see him as a savior of a globally warming Earth or, alternatively, the savior of humanity through his plan to transport civilization to an unpolluted Mars. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 7 Nov. 2022 See More

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.

Word History


see civil

First Known Use

1760, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of civilization was in 1760

Dictionary Entries Near civilization

Cite this Entry

“Civilization.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition



civ·​i·​li·​za·​tion ˌsiv-ə-lə-ˈzā-shən How to pronounce civilization (audio)
: an advanced stage (as in art, science, and government) of social development
: the way of life of a people
ancient Egyptian civilization
: the series of changes involved in becoming civilized
: improvement of thought, manners, or taste

More from Merriam-Webster on civilization

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