civilize

verb
civ·​i·​lize | \ ˈsi-və-ˌlīz How to pronounce civilize (audio) \
civilized; civilizing

Definition of civilize

transitive verb

1 : to cause to develop out of a primitive state especially : to bring to a technically advanced and rationally ordered stage of cultural development

intransitive verb

: to acquire the customs and amenities of a civil community

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from civilize

civilizer noun

Examples of civilize in a Sentence

Her parents hoped that boarding school might civilize her some. a teacher who had a civilizing influence on the students He is credited with civilizing the treatment of people with mental illnesses. efforts to civilize the health-care system They believed it was their duty to civilize the native people.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Fifth is fine for everything from low-speed economy cruising to long-legged and very heady running at the top end, where the turbo system's softening, civilizing effect on the five-cylinder's inherent high-rev tingle is especially nice. Larry Griffin, Car and Driver, "Tested: 1982 Audi Quattro," 22 May 2020 So why not spend it in the civilizing thrall of great art? Marley Marius, Vogue, "16 Art Exhibitions Worth Escaping to This Holiday Season," 25 Oct. 2019 In their efforts to civilize the workplace, however, Roosevelt and his allies didn’t set up a new institution for workers to speak through. Caleb Crain, The New Yorker, "State of the Unions," 19 Aug. 2019 In one interpretation, the Law of the Jungle is the Raj, and the Monkey People are the hapless Indians whom the British came to civilize. Charles Mcgrath, The New Yorker, "Rudyard Kipling in America," 1 July 2019 Schools are usually the last chance to civilize children if their family has failed to do so. WSJ, "Notable & Quotable: School Discipline," 21 Dec. 2018 Crusoe keeps Friday as a servant, implying that the best way to civilize a savage is to subordinate him. Pallavi Kottamasu, BostonGlobe.com, "Were cannibals really so bad?," 2 June 2018 Even Bogle noticed how eccentrically civilized the country felt: spacious and calm without being actually empty. Lawrence Osborne, Town & Country, "Why Everyone Is Traveling to Bhutan," 30 Mar. 2015 In its little, domestic world, writing civilized the middle-class home. Williams avoids Jane Austen, on the reasonable ground that a lot has already been done on her. John Sutherland, New York Times, "We Are What We Read," 2 Jan. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'civilize.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of civilize

1595, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about civilize

Time Traveler for civilize

Time Traveler

The first known use of civilize was in 1595

See more words from the same year

Statistics for civilize

Cite this Entry

“Civilize.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/civilize. Accessed 6 Aug. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for civilize

civilize

verb
How to pronounce civilize (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of civilize

: to teach (a person or group of people) to behave in a way that you think is more polite and gentle
: to make (something) more gentle, fair, reasonable, etc.
: to cause (a group of people) to have a more highly organized and modern way of living

civilize

verb
civ·​i·​lize | \ ˈsi-və-ˌlīz How to pronounce civilize (audio) \
civilized; civilizing

Kids Definition of civilize

: to cause to have a more advanced or modern way of living

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on civilize

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

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

July 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • papercraft sunset
  • Which is a synonym of mien?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!