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 civilizational (audio) , -​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective

Synonyms for civilization


culture, life, lifestyle, society

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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

At least as long as 5,000 years ago, the people of an ancient Middle Eastern civilization known as Mesopotamia started putting out houses for these birds. Washington Post, "Ever wondered why cities have so many pigeons?," 10 June 2019 Today, because Western economies have shared the gifts of Western civilization with the rest of the world, other societies are catching up. Marilynne Robinson, Harper's magazine, "Letters," 10 May 2019 As the jumble-shop plot starts to unfold, her identity is that of a warrior in training with an elite group of Kree, an advanced civilization on a far-off planet. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, "‘Captain Marvel’ Review: Woman but No Wonder," 6 Mar. 2019 The name of the restaurant, by the way, comes from an ancient Nile civilization, Mr. Brown said. New York Times, "Place 19 of 52: A Celebration of African-American Culture in Baltimore," 29 June 2018 The scale of the vast refrigerated storerooms was otherworldly; one warehouse held enough onions seemingly to supply an entire civilization. Sean Patrick Cooper, The New Republic, "Is America Ready for the Next Superstorm?," 4 June 2018 Robert Pattinson is a hair god from an ancient civilization. Adam Hurly, GQ, "Here's How to Pull off Robert Pattinson's Hair," 11 Apr. 2018 The Kogi, Arhuaco, Wiwa, and Kankuamo are descended from the pre-Columbian Tayrona, an advanced civilization that built stone temples and manufactured gold jewelry. Jon Lee Anderson, Condé Nast Traveler, "Stepping Beyond Cartagena: Exploring Colombia's Northern Reaches," 21 Mar. 2018 The site is in Chaco Canyon, where an ancient civilization thrived for millennia before mysteriously abandoning their city. National Geographic, "Vernal Equinox 2018: Facts About the First Day of Spring," 20 Mar. 2018

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

16 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for civilization

The first known use of civilization was in 1760

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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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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).


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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