1. Of, relating to, or befitting a citizen or citizens: civil duties.
2. Of or relating to citizens and their interrelations with one another or with the state: government agencies concerned with civil affairs.
3. Of ordinary citizens or ordinary community life as distinguished from the military or the ecclesiastical: married in a civil ceremony at city hall.
4. Sufficiently observing or befitting accepted social usages; polite: a civil reply. See Synonyms at polite.
5. Being in accordance with or denoting legally recognized divisions of time: a civil year.
6. Law Relating to the rights of private individuals and legal proceedings concerning these rights as distinguished from criminal, military, or international regulations or proceedings.
[Middle English, from Latin cīvīlis, from cīvis, citizen; see CIVIC.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.