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

During that last century or two of Maya civilization, environmental stresses, like droughts, seem to have eroded the stability of the Maya world, leading to a sharp escalation in conflict between kingdoms. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Warring Maya kingdoms razed enemy cities to the ground," 6 Aug. 2019 The Monte Alto culture is known in particular for their sculptures, which include the potbellied figures as well as giant heads that resemble sculptures of the Olmec civilization, which predates and coincides with Monte Alto. Joshua Rapp Learn, Smithsonian, "Mesoamerican Sculptures Reveal Early Knowledge of Magnetism," 6 Aug. 2019 Only a civilization addicted to frivolity and hectored by self-hating intellectuals — that is, ours — could have let the giant step go unfollowed so long or think so fleetingly of it now. Nr Editors, National Review, "The Week," 25 July 2019 As a result, Johnson said, few people realize the extent of the civilization that existed here for centuries or that these cultures have continued to evolve to present day., "Paddling in Chinook canoe, students learn Native American history first-hand," 21 July 2019 What Usama bin Laden hoped to provoke was a war of civilization, a war between the west and one billion Muslims. Fox News, "Mike Huckabee: Peter Fonda ought to be in jail," 27 June 2018 The terms of the equation begin with the number of stars in our galaxy and proceed to the number of civilizations actively broadcasting their presence into space. Harrison Tasoff,, "NASA's TESS Satellite Will Supercharge Search for Nearby, Earth-Like Worlds," 15 Apr. 2018 And with climate change looming over all, our very civilization now faces the most destructive threat of all. Joe Sestak, Fortune, "Joe Sestak: Why America Needs an Accountable President Again," 16 July 2019 Pottery found at Philistine archaeological sites, for example, appeared to have been made locally, but looked strikingly like wares created by Aegean cultures such as the Mycenaeans, who built their civilization in what is now mainland Greece. Megan Gannon, Smithsonian, "Ancient DNA Sheds New Light on the Biblical Philistines," 3 July 2019

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

11 Aug 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

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