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[sit-uh-zuh n, -suh n] /ˈsɪt ə zən, -sən/
a native or naturalized member of a state or nation who owes allegiance to its government and is entitled to its protection (distinguished from alien).
an inhabitant of a city or town, especially one entitled to its privileges or franchises.
an inhabitant, or denizen:
The deer is a citizen of our woods.
a civilian, as distinguished from a soldier, police officer, etc.
Origin of citizen
1275-1325; Middle English citisein < Anglo-French citesein, Old French citeain, equivalent to cite city + -ain -an; Anglo-French s perhaps by association with deinzain denizen
Related forms
citizenly, adjective
noncitizen, noun
uncitizenly, adjective
undercitizen, noun
Can be confused
citizen, resident. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for citizens
  • Putting their services online should allow governments to serve their citizens much more effectively.
  • Instead, they restrict almost every aspect of citizens' life.
  • It is unfair to the citizens who are harmless and they have to live in constant fear and agony.
  • Mayors think of municipalities as cradles of democracy where citizens meet government close up.
  • The first is the legacy built up over four centuries for providing citizens with quality journalism and credible information.
  • They're also citizens, who have citizen values-including saving the planet from global warming.
  • Meanwhile concerned citizens wondered whether these ostensibly benevolent electronic eyes were developing a suspicious squint.
  • citizens should have the right to monitor and post information about the activities of government and government officials.
  • City planners and citizens alike frequently push for better public transportation.
  • Private citizens inquired about health problems and investments.
British Dictionary definitions for citizens


a native registered or naturalized member of a state, nation, or other political community Compare alien
an inhabitant of a city or town
a native or inhabitant of any place
a civilian, as opposed to a soldier, public official, etc
adjective civil
Derived Forms
citizeness (ˈsɪtɪzənɪs; -ˌnɛs) noun:feminine
citizenly, adjective
Word Origin
C14: from Anglo-French citesein, from Old French citeien, from cité,city
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for citizens



early 14c., "inhabitant of a city," from Anglo-French citezein (spelling subsequently altered, probably by influence of denizen), from Old French citeien "city-dweller, town-dweller, citizen" (12c., Modern French citoyen), from cite (see city) + -ain (see -ian). Replaced Old English burhsittend and ceasterware. Sense of "inhabitant of a country" is late 14c. Citizen's arrest recorded from 1941; citizen's band (radio) from 1947. Citizen of the world (late 15c.) translates Greek kosmopolites.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for citizens



A person of a more conservative, established, and prosaic caste than oneself; square (1960s+ Black & counterculture)


Related Terms

john q citizen

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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