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

  • noun 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.
  • noun The type of culture and society developed by a particular nation or region or in a particular epoch.
  • noun The act or process of civilizing or reaching a civilized state.
  • noun Cultural or intellectual refinement; good taste.
  • noun Modern society with its conveniences.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun 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.
  • noun The act of rendering a criminal process civil. Also spelled civilisation.

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

  • noun The act of civilizing, or the state of being civilized; national culture; refinement.
  • noun (Law), obsolete Rendering a criminal process civil.

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

  • noun 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.
  • noun uncountable Human society, particularly civil society.
  • noun The act or process of civilizing or becoming civilized.
  • noun The state or quality of being civilized.
  • noun obsolete The act of rendering a criminal process civil.
  • proper noun 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 WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

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

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

    October 3, 2007

  • "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