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Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for incivility in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)


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


incivility (countable and uncountable, plural incivilities)

  1. (uncountable) The state of being uncivil; lack of courtesy; rudeness in manner
    Synonyms: 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) Want 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).]

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