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

  • n. An advanced state of intellectual, cultural, and material development in human society, marked by progress in the arts and sciences, the extensive use of record-keeping, including writing, and the appearance of complex political and social institutions.
  • n. The type of culture and society developed by a particular nation or region or in a particular epoch: Mayan civilization; the civilization of ancient Rome.
  • n. The act or process of civilizing or reaching a civilized state.
  • n. Cultural or intellectual refinement; good taste.
  • n. Modern society with its conveniences: returned to civilization after camping in the mountains.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An organized culture encompassing many communities, often on the scale of a nation or a people; a stage or system of social, political, or technical development.
  • n. Human society, particularly civil society.
  • n. The act or process of civilizing or becoming civilized.
  • n. The state or quality of being civilized.
  • n. The act of rendering a criminal process civil.
  • proper n. Collectively, those people of the world considered to have a high standard of behavior and / or a high level of development. Commonly subjectively used by people of one society to exclusively refer to their society, or their elite sub-group, or a few associated societies, implying all others, in time or geography or status, as something less than civilised, as savages or barbarians. cf refinement, elitism, civilised society, the Civilised World

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of civilizing, or the state of being civilized; national culture; refinement.
  • n. Rendering a criminal process civil.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The act of civilizing, or the state of being civilized; the state of being reclaimed from the rudeness of savage life, and advanced in arts and learning.
  • n. The act of rendering a criminal process civil. Also spelled civilisation.

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

  • n. the quality of excellence in thought and manners and taste
  • n. a particular society at a particular time and place
  • n. a society in an advanced state of social development (e.g., with complex legal and political and religious organizations)
  • n. the social process whereby societies achieve an advanced stage of development and organization


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Probably from French civilisation, corresponding to civilize +‎ -ation in English.



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  • "Man - despite his artistic pretensions, his sophistication, and his many accomplishments - owes his existence to a six inch layer of topsoil and the fact that it rains." - Author unknown

    July 30, 2008

  • It is better for civilization to be going down the drain than to be coming up it. --Henry Allen

    October 3, 2007

  • Over in city park, one of the local philosophers mused, "Things could be different if man's 'man-made-world' was actually made by man.

    --Jan Cox

    July 6, 2007