• synonyms

civil rights

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plural noun (often initial capital letters)
  1. rights to personal liberty established by the 13th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and certain Congressional acts, especially as applied to an individual or a minority group.
  2. the rights to full legal, social, and economic equality extended to blacks.
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Origin of civil rights

First recorded in 1715–25
Related formsciv·il-rights, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for civil rights

freedom, rights

Examples from the Web for civil rights

Contemporary Examples of civil rights

Historical Examples of civil rights

British Dictionary definitions for civil rights

civil rights

pl n
  1. the personal rights of the individual citizen, in most countries upheld by law, as in the US
  2. (modifier) of, relating to, or promoting equality in social, economic, and political rights
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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 civil rights


1721, American English; specifically of black U.S. citizens from 1866.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

civil rights in Culture

civil rights

A broad range of privileges and rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and subsequent amendments and laws that guarantee fundamental freedoms to all individuals. These freedoms include the rights of free expression and action (civil liberties); the right to enter into contracts, own property, and initiate lawsuits; the rights of due process and equal protection of the laws; opportunities in education and work; the freedom to live, travel, and use public facilities wherever one chooses; and the right to participate in the democratic political system.

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Efforts to redress the situation of inequality, such as the civil rights movement and the women's movement, have resulted in legislation such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, in affirmative action, and in the creation of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.