General English

  • adjective relating to general public life rather than to the armed forces
  • adjective polite
  • adjective in court, relating to cases brought by one person against another, as opposed to being brought by the police because it is criminal


  • adjective relating to ordinary people


  • adjective referring to the rights and duties of private persons or corporate bodies, as opposed to criminal, military or ecclesiastical bodies


  • adjective relating to the ordinary citizens of a country
  • adjective non-military

Origin & History of “civil”

Latin cīvis ‘citizen’ had two adjectival derivatives which have passed into English: cīvicus, source of civic (16th c.), and cīvīlis, from which, via Old French, we get civil. Of its derivatives, civility (14th c.) comes from Latin cīvīlitās, but civilize (17th c.) and civilian (14th c.) are French creations.