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  1. having an advanced or humane culture, society, etc.
  2. polite; well-bred; refined.
  3. of or relating to civilized people: The civilized world must fight ignorance.
  4. easy to manage or control; well organized or ordered: The car is quiet and civilized, even in sharp turns.
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Origin of civilized

First recorded in 1605–15; civilize + -ed2
Related formsciv·i·liz·ed·ness [siv-uh-lahy-zid-nis, -lahyzd] /ˈsɪv əˌlaɪ zɪd nɪs, -ˌlaɪzd/, nounhalf-civ·il·ized, adjectivehy·per·civ·i·lized, adjectivenon·civ·i·lized, adjectivesub·civ·i·lized, adjectivesu·per·civ·i·lized, adjectiveul·tra·civ·i·lized, adjectivewell-civ·i·lized, adjective


verb (used with object), civ·i·lized, civ·i·liz·ing.
  1. to bring out of a savage, uneducated, or rude state; make civil; elevate in social and private life; enlighten; refine: Rome civilized the barbarians.
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Also especially British, civ·i·lise.

Origin of civilize

1595–1605; < French civiliser; see civil, -ize
Related formsciv·i·liz·a·ble, adjectiveciv·i·liz·a·to·ry [siv-uh-lahy-zuh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] /ˌsɪv əˈlaɪ zəˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i/, adjectiveciv·i·liz·er, nounde·civ·i·lize, verb (used with object), de·civ·i·lized, de·civ·i·liz·ing.non·civ·i·liz·a·ble, adjectiveo·ver·civ·i·lize, verb, o·ver·civ·i·lized, o·ver·civ·i·liz·ing.un·civ·i·liz·a·ble, adjectiveun·civ·i·lize, verb (used with object), un·civ·i·lized, un·civ·i·liz·ing.


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

educated, civil, refined, cultured, sophisticated, humane, enlightened, advanced, urbane

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British Dictionary definitions for civilized



  1. having a high state of culture and social development
  2. cultured; politea civilized discussion
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verb (tr)
  1. to bring out of savagery or barbarism into a state characteristic of civilization
  2. to refine, educate, or enlighten
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Derived Formscivilizable or civilisable, adjectivecivilizer or civiliser, 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

Word Origin and History for civilized


1610s, past participle adjective from civilize.

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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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper