- to bring out of a savage, uneducated, or rude state; make civil; elevate in social and private life; enlighten; refine: Rome civilized the barbarians.
Origin of civilize
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for civilize
An Army veteran looks at the fall of Mosul and recalls his own time there trying to civilize the land with guns and money.Mosul's Civilization and Its Discontents
June 14, 2014
It means destroying Bedouin villages in the place where Jews civilize the desert.Daniel Gordis Has It Backwards
December 11, 2012
Consider it part of the mission to civilize, a necessary part of the process to start solving problems again in Washington.Vote the Bums Out: the Eight Worst Members of Congress
November 3, 2012
In the old days, colonial occupiers had what the French called “a mission to civilize.”The O Word: Christopher Dickey on What Occupation Means Today
December 6, 2011
Was it found necessary to civilize a wild and extensive province?
It is Art that is going to civilize mankind; broaden his sympathies.All Roads Lead to Calvary
Jerome K. Jerome
He looked like some old Roman consul going out to govern and civilize.IT and Other Stories
Some canting hypocrites are whining for us to civilize the Indians.A Virginia Scout
Was it possible to teach them right and wrong, to Christianize, or even to civilize them?The Story of John G. Paton
- to bring out of savagery or barbarism into a state characteristic of civilization
- to refine, educate, or enlighten
Word Origin and History for civilize
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.