Definition of civility in English:



  • 1[mass noun] Formal politeness and courtesy in behaviour or speech.

    ‘I hope we can treat each other with civility and respect’
    • ‘A deeper form of civility asks us to make an effort to treat other people with respect.’
    • ‘Their sense of fairness, justice and civility have been deeply injured.’
    • ‘We legislate them for ourselves, and also for others, when we demand respect or civility or forbearance from them.’
    • ‘He calls for these students to exercise the kind of civility he recalls on campus in 1968.’
    • ‘Even if you disagree with the views of others, treat them with civility and agree to differ.’
    • ‘So tolerance, civility and open discussion are useful places to start.’
    • ‘I, on the other hand, expect people to keep their speech within the limits of civility.’
    • ‘I want civility and respect to triumph over anti-social behaviour.’
    • ‘An egregious example of non-compromise and lack of civility took place last July.’
    • ‘The real test of a person's civility is the way they treat those who have less power and status than they do.’
    • ‘The treatment of the police by the marchers was equally one-sided in favor of civility and politeness.’
    • ‘To reject these teachings is to reject our manners and civility.’
    • ‘Yet in the end, I could not muster the courage to shatter the atmosphere of respectful civility.’
    • ‘They are adults standing for, one presumes, responsible behaviour and the higher values of civility and democracy.’
    • ‘However, that cannot be done without at least a modicum of civility!’
    • ‘There is no civility in throwing stones and damaging property or beating up unsuspecting passers-by.’
    • ‘Her talk before the Pennsylvania delegation was, in part, a plea for a return to civility.’
    • ‘It is the fact that civility requires us to show respect for people we do not know that invests it with a strong moral quality.’
    • ‘Despite her plain clothes, she radiated a ladylike politeness and civility.’
    • ‘Of course the marooned crew tried to maintain civility and culture in their surroundings.’
    courtesy, courteousness, politeness, good manners, mannerliness, gentlemanliness, chivalry, gallantry, graciousness, consideration, respect, gentility
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    1. 1.1Polite remarks used in formal conversation.
      ‘she was exchanging civilities with his mother’
      • ‘He ignored the normal civilities of acknowledging the crowd.’
      • ‘It is a reasonable assumption that, even if there are disagreements on the role of the society, the common objective will mean that the normal civilities and in particular normal electoral proprieties will be observed.’
      • ‘The civilities of my first years as Director, the collegiality among institutions, these are things of the past.’
      • ‘As we exchanged civilities I felt a peculiar turning inside my chest; I really don't know, but I think it may have been pride.’
      • ‘Argentines are quite formal in public and are very aware of proper civilities.’
      • ‘He was someone I could do without but who expects civilities from the likes of him?’
      • ‘Wherever we go, once people have abandoned bland civilities and established a bond of trust, they ask: ‘Why does no one tell the world our story?’’
      • ‘You know as well as I do that it was decreed that normal civilities don't apply to you or your cohort.’
      • ‘‘Mr Johnson,’ he begins, without any of the conventional civilities, and then tells me that he has obtained authority to visit my premises in Oxfordshire.’
      • ‘And when the rare civilities of open political life are curtailed or destroyed, as they so often are, the elementary forms of infrapolitics remain as a defense in depth of the powerless.’
      • ‘Once she reached the door, she made a painfully pathetic attempt at civilities.’
      • ‘Yes, attention to the civilities of the day can give even the most aesthetically challenged man a shot at scoring a mate…’
      polite remark, politeness, courtesy
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Late Middle English: from Old French civilite, from Latin civilitas, from civilis relating to citizens (see civil). In early use the term denoted the state of being a citizen and hence good citizenship or orderly behaviour. The sense ‘politeness’ arose in the mid 16th century.