9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[si-vil-yuh n] /sɪˈvɪl yən/
a person who is not on active duty with a military, naval, police, or fire fighting organization.
Informal. anyone regarded by members of a profession, interest group, society, etc., as not belonging; nonprofessional; outsider:
We need a producer to run the movie studio, not some civilian from the business world.
a person versed in or studying Roman or civil law.
of, pertaining to, formed by, or administered by civilians.
Origin of civilian
1350-1400; Middle English: student of civil law < Old French civilien (adj.); see civil, -ian
Related forms
anticivilian, adjective
noncivilian, noun
procivilian, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for civilian
  • Basic pay is required by law to grow in line with civilian pay.
  • File a complaint with the civilian complaint review board.
  • The immediate big future for this development is in the civilian market.
  • Officers sign up civilian volunteers to join the fight next to the anti-aircraft station on the basketball court of a high school.
  • It is likely that both sources underestimate the true number of civilian casualties.
  • In fact, this was when reports of civilian casualties in the region began circulating.
  • Their civilian power programs were excellent cover for weapons development.
  • The militants' civilian toll has gone up at a similar rate.
  • The explosion destroyed the civilian car, the governor's office said.
  • More such sites may be needed to secure the fissile materials that result from civilian nuclear power.
British Dictionary definitions for civilian


  1. a person whose primary occupation is civil or nonmilitary
  2. (as modifier): civilian life
Word Origin
C14 (originally: a practitioner of civil law): from civile (from the Latin phrase jūs cīvīle civil law) + -ian
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 civilian

late 14c., "judge or authority on civil law," from Old French civilien "of the civil law," created from Latin civilis "relating to a citizen, relating to public life, befitting a citizen; popular, affable, courteous" (see civil). Sense of "non-military person" is attested by 1819 (earlier in this sense was civilian, attested from c.1600 as "non-soldier"). The adjective is from 1640s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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