Definitions

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

  • noun A person who is not an active member of the military, the police, or a belligerent group in a conflict.
  • noun A person who is not an employee of the government.
  • noun A specialist in Roman or civil law.
  • adjective Of, relating to, or being a civilian or civilians.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun One who is skilled in the Roman or civil law; a professor or doctor of civil law.
  • noun A student of the civil law at a university.
  • noun One whose pursuits are those of civil life, not military or clerical; especially, a non-military inhabitant of a garrisoned town.
  • noun One who, despising the righteousness of Christ, did yet follow after a certain civil righteousness, a justitia civilis of his own.
  • noun A covenanted civil servant in British India.
  • Pertaining to or characteristic of a civilian.

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

  • noun One skilled in the civil law.
  • noun A student of the civil law at a university or college.
  • noun One whose pursuits are those of civil life, not military or clerical.

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

  • noun A person following the pursuits of civil life, especially one who is not an active member of the military, the police, or a belligerent group.
  • noun informal A person who does not belong to a particular group or engage in a particular activity.
  • noun One skilled in civil law.
  • noun A student of civil law at a university or college.
  • adjective That which is not related to the military, police or other uniformed profession

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

  • adjective associated with civil life or performed by persons who are not active members of the military
  • noun a nonmilitary citizen

Etymologies

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

[Middle English, civil law judge, from Old French civilien, from civil, civil, from Latin cīvīlis; see civil.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French civilien.

Examples

  • Vowing to "let the enlightening begin", Mr Balkhi countered by quoting an explanation of the term 'civilian' as defined by the United Nations mission in Afghanistan, to which the ISAF representative replied: "Considering the Taliban's civilian casualty count during Eid, lecturing us on the definition of civilian is a bit of a joke."

    The Independent - Frontpage RSS Feed

  • I like to think of myself as a "civilian in uniform", an ordinary person who does, full-time, what most people would do anyway; consequently, I don't really like the term civilian, the opposite of which is jack-booted paramilitary thug (a term which I prefer, but isn't very user friendly).

    The Policeman's Blog

  • I like to think of myself as a "civilian in uniform", an ordinary person who does, full-time, what most people would do anyway; consequently, I don't really like the term civilian, the opposite of which is jack-booted paramilitary thug (a term which I prefer, but isn't very user friendly).

    The Policeman's Blog

  • I like to think of myself as a "civilian in uniform", an ordinary person who does, full-time, what most people would do anyway; consequently, I don't really like the term civilian, the opposite of which is jack-booted paramilitary thug (a term which I prefer, but isn't very user friendly).

    The Policeman's Blog

  • PMC contractors are civilians (in governmental, international, and civil organizations) authorized to accompany an army to the field; hence, the term civilian contractor.

    WN.com - Articles related to South Korea offers face-saving aid plan

  • I like to think of myself as a "civilian in uniform", an ordinary person who does, full-time, what most people would do anyway; consequently, I don't really like the term civilian, the opposite of which is jack-booted paramilitary thug (a term which I prefer, but isn't very user friendly).

    The Policeman's Blog

  • I like to think of myself as a "civilian in uniform", an ordinary person who does, full-time, what most people would do anyway; consequently, I don't really like the term civilian, the opposite of which is jack-booted paramilitary thug (a term which I prefer, but isn't very user friendly).

    The Policeman's Blog

  • Thus, PMC contractors are civilians (in governmental, international, and civil organizations) authorized to accompany an army to the field; hence, the term civilian contractor.

    WN.com - Articles related to South Korea offers face-saving aid plan

  • I like to think of myself as a "civilian in uniform", an ordinary person who does, full-time, what most people would do anyway; consequently, I don't really like the term civilian, the opposite of which is jack-booted paramilitary thug (a term which I prefer, but isn't very user friendly).

    The Policeman's Blog

  • Thus, PMC contractors are civilians (in governmental, international, and civil organizations) authorized to accompany an army to the field; hence, the term civilian contractor.

    WN.com - Articles related to South Korea offers face-saving aid plan

Comments

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  • How, when and why did this word change its meaning from, (a) "a practitioner of civil law" - which makes sense - to (b) "nonmilitary" - which doesn't? 19th century usage (Dickens, Kipling, Twain) sounds faintly comic.

    February 13, 2010