- the refusal to obey certain laws or governmental demands for the purpose of influencing legislation or government policy, characterized by the employment of such nonviolent techniques as boycotting, picketing, and nonpayment of taxes.Compare noncooperation(def 2), passive resistance.
- (initial capital letters, italics) an essay (1848) by Thoreau.
Origin of civil disobedience
- a refusal to obey laws, pay taxes, etc: a nonviolent means of protesting or of attempting to achieve political goals
Word Origin and History for civil disobedience
coined 1866 by Thoreau as title of an essay originally published (1849) as "Resistance to Civil Government."
(1849) An essay by Henry David Thoreau. It contains his famous statement “That government is best which governs least,” and asserts that people's obligations to their own conscience take precedence over their obligations to their government. Thoreau also argues that if, in following their conscience, people find it necessary to break the laws of the state, they should be prepared to pay penalties, including imprisonment.
The refusal to obey a law out of a belief that the law is morally wrong.