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[siv-uh-lahyz] /ˈsɪv əˌlaɪz/
verb (used with object), civilized, civilizing.
to bring out of a savage, uneducated, or rude state; make civil; elevate in social and private life; enlighten; refine:
Rome civilized the barbarians.
Also, especially British, civilise.
Origin of civilize
1595-1605; < French civiliser; see civil, -ize
Related forms
civilizable, adjective
[siv-uh-lahy-zuh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] /ˌsɪv əˈlaɪ zəˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i/ (Show IPA),
civilizer, noun
decivilize, verb (used with object), decivilized, decivilizing.
noncivilizable, adjective
overcivilize, verb, overcivilized, overcivilizing.
uncivilizable, adjective
uncivilize, verb (used with object), uncivilized, uncivilizing.
educate, teach, instruct, polish, sophisticate. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for civilised
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Ah, the ingratitude of the masses is a disgrace to civilised humanity!

    My Double Life Sarah Bernhardt
  • We are not abler than others whom you might find by the dozen in any civilised country.

    Freeland Theodor Hertzka
  • That agreeable animal which you meet every day in civilised society.

    Vivian Grey Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli
  • Under the Moors this region was the richest and most civilised in Europe.

    Rosinante to the Road Again

    John Dos Passos
  • Margaret crushed complacency down because she was civilised.

    Howards End E. M. Forster
  • Borneo produces about half the sago used by the civilised world.

    The Last Voyage Lady (Annie Allnutt) Brassey
  • The Cossacks are civilised people, of quiet, retiring habits, compared to them.

    Jack Hinton Charles James Lever
  • Their object is to annihilate civilisation by exterminating the civilised.

    The Crimson Tide Robert W. Chambers
  • This was the work known now to all the civilised world as "The Meyer Madonna."

    Holbein Beatrice Fortescue
British Dictionary definitions for civilised


verb (transitive)
to bring out of savagery or barbarism into a state characteristic of civilization
to refine, educate, or enlighten
Derived Forms
civilizable, civilisable, adjective
civilizer, civiliser, noun
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 civilised



c.1600, "to bring out of barbarism," from French civiliser, verb from Old French civil (adj.), from Latin civilis "relating to a citizen, relating to public life, befitting a citizen; popular, affable, courteous" (see civil). Meaning "become civilized" is from 1868. Related: Civilized; civilizing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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