Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Of, relating to, or befitting a citizen or citizens.
  • adjective Of or relating to citizens and their interrelations with one another or with the state.
  • adjective Of ordinary citizens or ordinary community life as distinguished from the military or the ecclesiastical.
  • adjective Sufficiently observing or befitting accepted social usages; polite: synonym: polite.
  • adjective Being in accordance with or denoting legally recognized divisions of time.
  • adjective Law Relating to the rights of private individuals and legal proceedings concerning these rights as distinguished from criminal, military, or international regulations or proceedings.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Pertaining to the state in general; pertaining to organized society as represented by government.
  • Specifically, relating to the commonwealth as secularly organized for purposes of peace: opposed to ecclesiastical, military, or naval; relating to the citizen in his relations to the commonwealth as thus organized, or to his fellow-citizens: as, civil rights; or, in particular, relating to property and other rights maintainable in law at the owner's suit: opposed to criminal: as, civil actions, civil courts, civil remedies.
  • Reduced to order, rule, and government; not in a condition of anarchy; controlled by a regular administration; exhibiting some refinement of customs and manners; not savage or wild; civilized: as, civil life; civil society.
  • Intestine; not foreign: as, civil war.
  • Courteous; obliging; well bred; affable; often, merely or formally polite; not discourteous.
  • Characteristic of a citizen, as opposed to a courtier, soldier, etc.; not gay or showy; sober; grave; somber.
  • More specifically, the municipal law of the Roman empire, the phrase jus civile (civil law) being used in Roman law for those rules and principles of law which were thought to be peculiar to the Roman people, in contradistinction to those which were supposed to be common to all nations (jus gentium). By English and American legal authors civil law is now commonly used to signify the whole system of Roman law, of which the principal source is the collection made by the Emperor Justinian, consisting of the Digest, Code, and Novellæ Constitutiones. Sometimes the term is also applied to the unwritten law of the principal nations of continental Europe, especially of Germany, which is based on the Roman law. Some authors speak in the latter case of modern civil law. The civil law is the basis also of the law of Scotland, Spanish America, Louisiana, and Quebec.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Pertaining to a city or state, or to a citizen in his relations to his fellow citizens or to the state; within the city or state.
  • adjective Subject to government; reduced to order; civilized; not barbarous; -- said of the community.
  • adjective Performing the duties of a citizen; obedient to government; -- said of an individual.
  • adjective Having the manners of one dwelling in a city, as opposed to those of savages or rustics; polite; courteous; complaisant; affable.
  • adjective Pertaining to civic life and affairs, in distinction from military, ecclesiastical, or official state.
  • adjective Relating to rights and remedies sought by action or suit distinct from criminal proceedings.
  • adjective an action to enforce the rights or redress the wrongs of an individual, not involving a criminal proceeding.
  • adjective the architecture which is employed in constructing buildings for the purposes of civil life, in distinction from military and naval architecture, as private houses, palaces, churches, etc.
  • adjective (Law.) See under Death.
  • adjective See under Engineering.
  • adjective See under Law.
  • adjective See under List.
  • adjective (Law) that given to a person injured, by action, as opposed to a criminal prosecution.
  • adjective all service rendered to and paid for by the state or nation other than that pertaining to naval or military affairs.
  • adjective the substitution of business principles and methods for the spoils system in the conduct of the civil service, esp. in the matter of appointments to office.
  • adjective the whole body of the laity or citizens not included under the military, maritime, and ecclesiastical states.
  • adjective Same as Civil action.
  • adjective See under War.
  • adjective See under Year.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Having to do with people and government office as opposed to the military or religion.
  • adjective Behaving in a reasonable or polite manner.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective of or occurring within the state or between or among citizens of the state
  • adjective (of divisions of time) legally recognized in ordinary affairs of life
  • adjective applying to ordinary citizens as contrasted with the military
  • adjective of or in a condition of social order
  • adjective of or relating to or befitting citizens as individuals
  • adjective not rude; marked by satisfactory (or especially minimal) adherence to social usages and sufficient but not noteworthy consideration for others

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Latin cīvīlis, from cīvis, citizen; see civic.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin cīvīlis ("relating to a citizen"), from cīvis ("citizen").

Examples

  • With the spread of internal purges inside the Communist Party of Kampuchea, having been a civil servant of a previous regime was no longer required to earn a death sentence; increasingly, “civil servants” or cadre from within Democratic Kampuchea itself were widely rounded up and terminated.

    The Death Toll in Cambodia: Quantifying Crimes Against Humanity (Craig Etcheson)

  • So that of civil honour the fountain is in the person of the commonwealth, and dependeth on the will of the sovereign; and is therefore temporary, and called ‘civil honour, ’ such as magistracy, offices, titles, and, in some places, coats and scutcheons painted; and men honour such as have them, as having so many signs of favour in the commonwealth: which favour is power.

    Chapter X. Of Power, Worth, Dignity, Honour, and Worthiness

  • Iraq has descended into nothing but a civil war, and there is nothing * civil* about it.

    TexasFred's

  • That shall civil sayings show] _Civil_ is here used in the same sense as when we say _civil_ wisdom or _civil life_, in opposition to a solitary state, or to the state of nature.

    Notes to Shakespeare — Volume 01: Comedies

  • As in Greece, the authorities censored the term civil war and employed phrases like “the War of Spain,” which seemed less divisive.42

    Bloodlust

  • Even the name of the war proved contentious; for years the government spurned the term civil war as dignifying the conflict and preferred bandit war.

    Bloodlust

  • Today, when the term "civil rights" appears to be an old-fashioned concept and the ideology of post-racialism penetrates the minds of many Americans, it is only proper to pause and recognize moments in history that remind us not only of how far we have come, but of how the fight for equality still continues.

    Rep. Alcee L. Hastings: The Struggle Continues for the Dream

  • As in Greece, the authorities censored the term civil war and employed phrases like “the War of Spain,” which seemed less divisive.42

    Bloodlust

  • Even the name of the war proved contentious; for years the government spurned the term civil war as dignifying the conflict and preferred bandit war.

    Bloodlust

  • Today, when the term "civil rights" appears to be an old-fashioned concept and the ideology of post-racialism penetrates the minds of many Americans, it is only proper to pause and recognize moments i...

    The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

Comments

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  • Ted Burke on the weather:

    I used to hear the old people saying, "Whatever the third day of the month is, that's the way that month will go out." I'm after tellin' people way older than myself about that, and they're after takin' notice. Here's another saying, "If you goes out the night of the full moon, if that star is only a short distance away from that moon, well you're going to get a civil month. But if that star is as far as from here to John Hurley's house, you can look out for the wind." That's what the old fellows used to say.

    (Spoken of Fogo Island off the north shore of Newfoundland.)

    --quoted in Robert Mellin, Tilting: House Launching, Slide Hauling, Potato Trenching, and Other Tales from a Newfoundland Fishing Village, New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2003.

    December 9, 2007

  • These are fun to read. It's amazing (and sad) how little we rely on these kinds of natural cues these days.

    December 10, 2007