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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for civilised
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • No policy not based upon the truth has ever long prevailed in any civilised country.

  • "Traitors must be dealt with as traitors are in all civilised States," said Donald.

    The Northern Iron George A. Birmingham
  • When Stranleigh sat down to supper, he regretted more than ever the civilised fare of the farm house.

  • You will not believe that such lawlessness can exist in a Christian—a civilised land.

    The Quadroon Mayne Reid
  • Like everything else in civilised existence, fire was a human discovery.

    Flowers of Freethought George W. Foote
  • It is no wonder that their phraseology was a caricature of civilised language.

    From Slave to College President Godfrey Holden Pike
  • Surely the Commander-in-Chief of a civilised army will not allow his men to be massacred as they are now being!

    The Invasion William Le Queux
  • Only the remnants of his clothing marked him as a civilised being.

  • This man, although free in a civilised country, would return to his idleness and resume his former ignorance.

    Newton Forster Captain Frederick Marryat
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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