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civil disobedience

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.
(initial capital letters, italics) an essay (1848) by Thoreau.
Origin of civil disobedience
First recorded in 1865-70 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for civil disobedience
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Trust in our government will end the current civil disobedience.

    After the Rain Sam Vaknin
  • On the 30th March civil disobedience had not even been started.

    Freedom's Battle Mahatma Gandhi
  • That may be civil disobedience if it is peacefully carried out.

    Freedom's Battle Mahatma Gandhi
  • Both were trained at civil disobedience through looting their own state and factories.

    After the Rain Sam Vaknin
  • But I have found to my cost that civil disobedience requires far greater preliminary training and self-control.

    Freedom's Battle Mahatma Gandhi
British Dictionary definitions for civil disobedience

civil disobedience

a refusal to obey laws, pay taxes, etc: a nonviolent means of protesting or of attempting to achieve political goals
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for civil disobedience

coined 1866 by Thoreau as title of an essay originally published (1849) as "Resistance to Civil Government."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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civil disobedience in Culture

“Civil Disobedience” definition

(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.

Note: Thoreau himself went to jail for refusing to pay a tax to support the Mexican War.

civil disobedience definition

The refusal to obey a law out of a belief that the law is morally wrong.

Note: In the nineteenth century, the American author Henry David Thoreau wrote “Civil Disobedience,” an important essay justifying such action.
Note: In the twentieth century, civil disobedience was exercised by Mahatma Gandhi in the struggle for independence in India. Civil disobedience, sometimes called nonviolent resistance or passive resistance, was also practiced by some members of the civil rights movement in the United States, notably Martin Luther King, Jr., to challenge segregation of public facilities; a common tactic of these civil rights supporters was the sit-in. King defended the use of civil disobedience in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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