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Syllabification: ci·vil·ian
Pronunciation: /səˈvilyən

Definition of civilian in English:


1A person not in the armed services or the police force.
Example sentences
  • Eight more police and two civilians died when their vehicles ran over mines.
  • The awards are made to civilians and police officers who put their lives at risk to save others.
  • People were brutally assaulted by police, and by civilians who acted in collusion to them.
1.1 informal A person who is not a member of a particular profession or group, as viewed by a member of that group: I talk to a lot of actresses and they say that civilians are scared of them
More example sentences
  • Many civilians outside the wonderful world of the City, having been lectured about their overdrafts, assumed that the banks were paragons of financial conservatism.
  • Was he a civilian or a celebrity?
  • People in show business refer to those outside of it as civilians.


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Of, denoting, or relating to a person not belonging to the armed services or police: military agents in civilian clothes
More example sentences
  • We have an ethical duty to avoid civilian casualties wherever possible.
  • Counterfeit papers and civilian clothes were produced for use by escapees.
  • Most soldiers mix the uniform with civilian clothes because items are out of stock.


late Middle English (denoting a practitioner of civil law): from Old French civilien, in the phrase droit civilien 'civil law'. The current sense arose in the early 19th century.

Definition of civilian in:

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