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From Middle English citizen, from Anglo-Norman citesain ‎(burgher; city-dweller) &c., probably a variant of cithein under influence of deinzein ‎(denizen), from Anglo-Norman and Old French citeain &c. and citaien &c. ("burgher"; modern French citoyen), from cite ("settlement; cathedral city, city"; modern French cité) + -ain or -ien ‎(-an, -ian). See city and hewe.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈsɪt.ɪ.zən/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈsɪd.ɪ.zən/, /ˈsɪd.ɪ.sən/, /ˈsɪt.ɪ.zən/, /ˈsɪt.ɪ.sən/
  • (file)


citizen ‎(plural citizens)

  1. (obsolete) A resident of a city or town, particularly:
    1. (historical) A freeman or burgher: a legally-recognized member of an incorporated city.
      • George Eliot
        That large body of the working men who were not counted as citizens and had not so much as a vote to serve as an anodyne to their stomachs.
    2. (obsolete) A member of the early modern urban middle class, distinguished from nobles and landed gentry on one side and from peasants, craftsmen, and laborers on the other.
    3. (Christianity) A resident or future resident of the heavenly city or (later) of the kingdom of God: a Christian; a good Christian.
  2. A legally-recognized member of a state, with associated rights and obligations; a person considered in terms of this role, particularly:
    • 1990, House of Cards, Season 1, Episode 4:
      Assistant: You'll meet with the managing director and Dr Sinita Brahmachari, the engineer who designed the chair.
      Peter Mackenzie: Indian, is he?
      Assistant: She is a British citizen, Minister. Born in Coventry.
    • 2012 January 1, Steven Sloman, “The Battle Between Intuition and Deliberation”, in American Scientist[1], volume 100, number 1, page 74:
      Libertarian paternalism is the view that, because the way options are presented to citizens affects what they choose, society should present options in a way that “nudges” our intuitive selves to make choices that are more consistent with what our more deliberative selves would have chosen if they were in control.
    I am a Roman citizen.
    1. (dated) A member of a state that is not a monarchy.
      Formerly, the citizens of republics were distinguished the subjects living in kingdoms.
    2. (historical, usually capitalized) A term of address among French citizens during the French Revolution or towards its supporters elsewhere; (later, dated) a term of address among socialists and communists.
  3. An inhabitant: a member of any place.
    Diogenes reckoned himself a citizen of the world.
    • 1979 October, Boys' Life, p. 33:
      A jellyfish... carries poison cells that can sting other citizens of the sea.
  4. A private citizen: a civilian, as opposed to a police officer, professional soldier, or other (usually state) group.
  5. (computing) An object.




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  • Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd ed. "citizen, n. and adj." Oxford University Press (Oxford), 2014.