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



From Middle French incivilité, from Late Latin incivilitas (incivility), from Latin incivilis (impolite, uncivil), from in- (privative prefix) + civilis (belonging to a citizen, civic, political, urbane, courteous, civil) (from civis (a citizen)).


  • IPA(key): /ɪnsɪˈvɪlɪti/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: in‧ci‧vil‧i‧ty


incivility (countable and uncountable, plural incivilities)

  1. (uncountable) The state of being uncivil; lack of courtesy; rudeness in manner.
    Synonym: impoliteness
    • c. 1589, William Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors, Act IV, Scene 4,[1]
      Courtezan. How say you now? is not your husband mad?
      Adriana. His incivility confirms no less.
    • 1668, David Lloyd, Memoires of the Lives, Actions, Sufferings, and Deaths of those Noble, Reverend, and Excellent Personages that suffered by Death, Sequestration, Decimation, and otherwise for the Protestant Religion, London: Samuel Speed, “The Life and Death of Robert Berkley,” p. 96,[2]
      Beat on proud Billows, Boreas blow,
      Swell curled Waves, high as Jove’s roof,
      Your incivility doth show,
      That Innocence is tempest proof.
    • 1811, Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 31,[3]
      Little did Mr. Willoughby imagine, I suppose, when his looks censured me for incivility in breaking up the party, that I was called away to the relief of one whom he had made poor and miserable [...]
    • 1927, Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse, Chapter 1,[4]
      [...] she could not bear incivility to her guests, to young men in particular [...]
  2. (countable) Any act of rudeness or ill-breeding.
    • 1632, George Sandys, Ovid’s Metamorphosis: Englished, mythologiz’d, and represented in figures, Oxford: John Lichfield, “Upon the Sixth Book of Ovids Metamorphosis,” p. 223,[5]
      Latona, in her flight from Juno, is churlishly intreated by the Lycian pesants, and denied the publique benefit of water: for which incivility these bawling Clownes are changed into croaking froggs, and confined unto that Lake for ever.
    • 1748, Samuel Richardson, Clarissa, Volume I, Letter 4, p. 26,[6]
      Mr. Lovelace, for three days together, sent twice each day to inquire after my brother’s health; and, altho’ he received rude, and even shocking returns, he thought fit, on the fourth day, to make in person the fame inquiries; and received still greater incivilities from my two uncles, who happen’d to be both there.
    • 1889, Sabine Baring-Gould, “A Face in the Dark” in Pennycomequicks, London: Spencer, Blackett & Hallam, Volume II, p. 54,[7]
      When my poor Sidebottom was alive, if there had been any unpleasantness between us during the day [...] I have shaken him at night to wake him up, that he might receive my pardon for an incivility said or done.
  3. (uncountable) Lack of civilization; a state of rudeness or barbarism.
    • 1781, [Mostyn John Armstrong], History and Antiquities of the County of Norfolk. Volume IX. Containing the Hundreds of Smithdon, Taverham, Tunstead, Walsham, and Wayland, volume IX, Norwich: Printed by J. Crouse, for M. Booth, bookseller, OCLC 520624543, page 51:
      BEAT on, proud billows; Boreas blow; / Swell, curled waves, high as Jove's roof; / Your incivility doth ſhow, / That innocence is tempeſt proof; / Though ſurly Nereus frown, my thoughts are calm; / Then ſtrike, Affliction, for thy wounds are balm. [Attributed to Roger L'Estrange (1616–1704).]

Related terms[edit]


See also[edit]