[ sit-uh-zuh n, -suh n ]
/ ˈsɪt ə zən, -sən /


a native or naturalized member of a state or nation who owes allegiance to its government and is entitled to its protection (distinguished from alien).
an inhabitant of a city or town, especially one entitled to its privileges or franchises.
an inhabitant, or denizen: The deer is a citizen of our woods.
a civilian, as distinguished from a soldier, police officer, etc.

Origin of citizen

1275–1325; Middle English citisein < Anglo-French citesein, Old French citeain, equivalent to cite city + -ain -an; Anglo-French s perhaps by association with deinzain denizen
Related formscit·i·zen·ly, adjectivenon·cit·i·zen, nounun·cit·i·zen·ly, adjectiveun·der·cit·i·zen, noun
Can be confusedcitizen resident Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for citizens

British Dictionary definitions for citizens


/ (ˈsɪtɪzən) /


a native registered or naturalized member of a state, nation, or other political communityCompare alien
an inhabitant of a city or town
a native or inhabitant of any place
a civilian, as opposed to a soldier, public official, etc
Related formsRelated adjective: civil
Derived Formscitizeness (ˈsɪtɪzənɪs, -ˌnɛs), fem ncitizenly, adjective

Word Origin for citizen

C14: from Anglo-French citesein, from Old French citeien, from cité, city
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

Word Origin and History for citizens



early 14c., "inhabitant of a city," from Anglo-French citezein (spelling subsequently altered, probably by influence of denizen), from Old French citeien "city-dweller, town-dweller, citizen" (12c., Modern French citoyen), from cite (see city) + -ain (see -ian). Replaced Old English burhsittend and ceasterware. Sense of "inhabitant of a country" is late 14c. Citizen's arrest recorded from 1941; citizen's band (radio) from 1947. Citizen of the world (late 15c.) translates Greek kosmopolites.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper