Share this entry

civilize Line breaks: civ¦il|ize
Pronunciation: /ˈsɪvɪlʌɪz/
(also civilise)

Definition of civilize in English:


[with object] (usually as adjective civilized)
1Bring (a place or people) to a stage of social development considered to be more advanced: a civilized society
More example sentences
  • They must take the lead in civilising our streets and reclaiming them for local communities.
  • There is clearly a major confrontation at the moment about how we in Australia find our own way to civilize global capital.
  • Both countries have a spying and military heritage, and both feel they have a mission to civilise the world.
enlighten, edify, educate, instruct, refine, cultivate, polish, sophisticate, socialize, humanize;
improve, better
archaic reclaim
1.1 (as adjective civilized) Polite and good-mannered: such an affront to civilized behaviour will no longer be tolerated
More example sentences
  • Training a child to sit at table and eat food in a civilized manner is one of the basic rituals of culture.
  • We stuffed ourselves silly when the pizza arrived, of course in a civilized manner.
  • He not only wants the best food, he wants to be handled in a civilized manner, too.


Early 17th century: from French civiliser, from civil 'civil'.



Pronunciation: /ˈsɪvəlʌɪzə/
Example sentences
  • Poetry is not a civilizer, rather the reverse, for great poetry appeals to the most primitive instincts.
  • Never in modem times has the world been in greater need of this gentle civilizer.
  • In her poetry, this is apparent in the representation of prairie homesteaders as cultivators and, by extension, civilizers of an untamed western wilderness.

Definition of civilize in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day haughty
Pronunciation: ˈhɔːti
arrogantly superior and disdainful