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Borrowed from Old French civilien.


  • IPA(key): /sɪˈvɪljən/
  • (file)


civilian (plural civilians)

  1. A person following the pursuits of civil life, especially one who is not an active member of the armed forces.
    Three civilians were apprehended by the soldiers and taken away in a military vehicle.
  2. (informal) A person who does not belong to a particular group or engage in a particular activity.
    The bathroom was for employees only, so no civilians were allowed to use it.
  3. One skilled in civil law.
    • (Can we date this quote by Jonathan Swift and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      Ancient civilians and writers upon government.
  4. A student of civil law at a university or college.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of R. Graves to this entry?)



civilian (not comparable)

  1. Not related to the military, police or other professions.
    The three detainees were actually army defectors wearing civilian clothing.
    He worked as a civilian journalist for ten years before being employed by the public broadcaster.