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From Middle English citizen, from Anglo-Norman *citezein, from Old French *citezein (spelling altered by confusion between ʒ (yogh = y) and z, and also possible contamination from denizen), from Old French citeien (Modern French citoyen), from cite ‎(settlement (regardless of size), later meaning cathedral town) (Modern French cité, English city), from citet, from Latin civitas ‎(citizenship, community of citizens), from civis ‎(townsman, citizen) (English civil, civilian), from Proto-Indo-European *key- ‎(to lie, homestead). Cognate with Old English hīwan ‎(members of one's household, servants, plural). More at hewe.


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


citizen ‎(plural citizens)

  1. A person who is legally recognized as a member of a state, with associated rights and obligations.
    • 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”, American Scientist, 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.
  2. (dated) A member of a state that is not a monarchy.
    Formerly, the citizens of republics were distinguished the subjects living in kingdoms.
  3. A person who is a legally recognized resident of a city or town.
    • 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.
  4. A resident of any particular place to which the subject feels he/she belongs.
    Diogenes reckoned himself a citizen of the world.
  5. A civilian, as opposed to a soldier, police officer, etc.
  6. (computing) An object.


  • (person who is a legally recognized resident of a city or town): burgher
  • (person who is legally recognized as a member of a state): national


  • (resident of any particular place): alien
  • (person who is legally recognized as a member of a state): illegal
  • (person who is legally recognized as a member of a state): foreigner
  • (resident of any particular place): stranger
  • (dated): subject


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