Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



From Middle English cyvylien, from Old French civilien. Equivalent to civil +‎ -ian.


  • 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, an outsider.
    • 2013, Eminem, “The Monster”, in The Marshall Mathers LP 2:
      I have this vision one day that I'll walk amongst you a regular civilian.
    The bathroom was for employees only, so civilians weren't allowed to use it.
  3. One skilled in civil law.
  4. A student of civil law at a university or college.
    • 1788, Richard Graves, Recollection of Some Particulars in the Life of the Late William Shenstone:
      although he kept his name in the college books, and changed his commoner gown to that of a civilian, yet he had now, I believe, no thoughts of proceeding to any degree; and seldom resided in college any more



civilian (not comparable)

  1. Not related to the military, police or other governmental 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.