[ siv-uhl ]
See synonyms for civil on
  1. of, relating to, or consisting of citizens: civil life; civil society.

  2. of the commonwealth or state: civil affairs.

  1. of citizens in their ordinary capacity, or of the ordinary life and affairs of citizens, as distinguished from military and ecclesiastical life and affairs.

  2. of the citizen as an individual: civil liberty.

  3. befitting a citizen: a civil duty.

  4. of, or in a condition of, social order or organized government; civilized: civil peoples.

  5. adhering to the norms of polite social intercourse; not deficient in common courtesy: After their disagreement, their relations were civil though not cordial.

  6. marked by benevolence: He was a very civil sort, and we liked him immediately.

  7. (of divisions of time) legally recognized in the ordinary affairs of life: the civil year.

  8. of or relating to civil law.

Origin of civil

1350–1400; Middle English <Latin cīvīlis, equivalent to cīv(is) citizen + -īlis-il

synonym study For civil

7, 8. Civil, affable, courteous, polite all imply avoidance of rudeness toward others. Civil suggests a minimum of observance of social requirements. Affable suggests ease of approach and friendliness. Courteous implies positive, dignified, sincere, and thoughtful consideration for others. Polite implies habitual courtesy, arising from a consciousness of one's training and the demands of good manners.

Other words for civil

Opposites for civil

Other words from civil

  • civ·il·ness, noun
  • an·ti·civ·il, adjective
  • half-civil, adjective
  • half-civ·il·ly, adverb
  • o·ver·civ·il, adjective
  • o·ver·civ·il·ly, adverb
  • quasi-civil, adjective
  • qua·si-civ·il·ly, adverb
  • su·per·civ·il, adjective
  • su·per·civ·il·ly, adverb

Words Nearby civil Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use civil in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for civil


/ (ˈsɪvəl) /

  1. of the ordinary life of citizens as distinguished from military, legal, or ecclesiastical affairs

  2. of or relating to the citizen as an individual: civil rights

  1. of or occurring within the state or between citizens: civil strife

  2. polite or courteous

  3. a less common word for civic

  4. of or in accordance with Roman law

  5. relating to the private rights of citizens

Origin of civil

C14: from Old French, from Latin cīvīlis, from cīvis citizen

Derived forms of civil

  • civilly, adverb
  • civilness, 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