un·​civ·​i·​lized ˌən-ˈsi-və-ˌlīzd How to pronounce uncivilized (audio)
: not civilized: such as
somewhat old-fashioned : not polite, reasonable, or respectable : objectionable according to social norms
uncivilized language/behavior
often used humorously
We were awakened at an uncivilized hour.
Only the uncivilized would put lettuce and tomato on a true cheeseburger, which God decreed to be accompanied by mustard and dill pickle only.Phil Musick
: showing gross disregard for the law or for the fair and humane treatment of people or animals
a brutal and uncivilized punishment
Looting was a wild, lawless, uncivilized thing to do, but I saw enough of it during World War II to understand how even a relatively civilized soldier could do it.Andrew A. Rooney
old-fashioned + often offensive : not having the kinds of social systems, technologies, etc. that are seen in most modern societies
uncivilized [=primitive] cultures
: remote from settled areas : wild
… a hidden river, entirely uncivilized with no roads or trails touching it …Patricia Spring

Examples of uncivilized in a Sentence

He was awakened at an uncivilized hour. They believe that capital punishment is uncivilized.
Recent Examples on the Web Under the Omanis, Zanzibar grew rich selling spices, ivory, and slaves, mostly non-Muslims from the interior, whom the island’s élites derided as washenzi, or uncivilized. Julian Lucas, The New Yorker, 17 Oct. 2022 Forcing a woman to choose between jail and carrying her rapist's baby is uncivilized and medieval. CNN, 27 June 2022 There is no doubt uncivilized — and sometimes violent — acts have taken place in school bathrooms. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 26 June 2022 Roxane Gay: For all our cultural obsession with civility, there is nothing more uncivilized than the political establishment’s acceptance of the constancy of mass shootings. New York Times, 26 May 2022 Sure, the song (apparently written about writer Quentin Crisp) is just about the alienating sense of being an outsider, of having people judge you for your accent or aspiring to civility in an uncivilized land. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 22 Apr. 2022 Whereas Saidian Orientalism understood the Eastern Other as fundamentally backward and uncivilized, however, techno-Orientalism presents an upgraded vision of the Asian as threateningly futuristic and advanced. Jane Hu, The New Yorker, 4 Mar. 2022 The Qing emperors themselves were not Han either, but Manchu, a people from the other side of the Great Wall who had traditionally been regarded as uncivilized nomads. Ian Buruma, Harper’s Magazine , 18 Jan. 2022 There is only one religion in uncivilized society, and that is Kendall Roy. Natalie Lin, Vulture, 3 Dec. 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'uncivilized.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1607, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of uncivilized was in 1607

Dictionary Entries Near uncivilized

Cite this Entry

“Uncivilized.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/uncivilized. Accessed 18 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


un·​civ·​i·​lized ˌən-ˈsiv-ə-ˌlīzd How to pronounce uncivilized (audio)
: not civilized : lacking culture or refinement
: far from civilization : wild

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