• synonyms


[si-vil-yuh n]
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  1. a person who is not on active duty with a military, naval, police, or fire fighting organization.
  2. Informal. anyone regarded by members of a profession, interest group, society, etc., as not belonging; nonprofessional; outsider: We need a producer to run the movie studio, not some civilian from the business world.
  3. a person versed in or studying Roman or civil law.
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  1. of, pertaining to, formed by, or administered by civilians.
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Origin of civilian

1350–1400; Middle English: student of civil law < Old French civilien (adj.); see civil, -ian
Related formsan·ti·ci·vil·ian, adjectivenon·ci·vil·ian, nounpro·ci·vil·ian, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for civilian


    1. a person whose primary occupation is civil or nonmilitary
    2. (as modifier)civilian life
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Word Origin

C14 (originally: a practitioner of civil law): from civile (from the Latin phrase jūs cīvīle civil law) + -ian
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 civilian


late 14c., "judge or authority on civil law," from Old French civilien "of the civil law," created from Latin civilis "relating to a citizen, relating to public life, befitting a citizen; popular, affable, courteous" (see civil). Sense of "non-military person" is attested by 1819 (earlier in this sense was civilian, attested from c.1600 as "non-soldier"). The adjective is from 1640s.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper