Meaning of civilian in English:


Pronunciation /sɪˈvɪlj(ə)n/

See synonyms for civilian

Translate civilian into Spanish


  • 1A person not in the armed services or the police force.

    ‘terrorists and soldiers have killed tens of thousands of civilians’
    • ‘Eight more police and two civilians died when their vehicles ran over mines.’
    • ‘The awards are made to civilians and police officers who put their lives at risk to save others.’
    • ‘The war dragged on, costing the lives of many thousands of civilians and servicemen.’
    • ‘Under the Geneva Conventions it is a war crime to target deliberately innocent civilians.’
    • ‘Later they collected two dead and seven wounded civilians, among them women and children.’
    • ‘Locals claim the dead were civilians shot by snipers or caught in crossfire.’
    • ‘Nine civilians who were in the vicinity of such operations were also killed.’
    • ‘Now we too would go without uniforms, so as to mask our presence among the civilians.’
    • ‘Since then several arguments have broken out between soldiers and civilians in local pubs.’
    • ‘Forces on both sides frequently terrorized unarmed civilians suspected of sympathizing with the enemy.’
    • ‘Her work included accompanying unarmed civilians being threatened by an armed group, serving as a protective presence.’
    • ‘The obligation to protect civilians accompanying the force falls mainly to the tactical commander.’
    • ‘Bombing civilians in retaliation is ineffective and counterproductive.’
    • ‘It is apparent that there was no intent to harm civilians with the first electro-optical guided bomb.’
    • ‘The purpose of military action must be to relieve or avert gross physical harm to non-combatant civilians.’
    • ‘As a result, more than six hundred civilians would be killed.’
    • ‘He reported personally witnessing at least 20 cases where soldiers had beaten or robbed civilians at checkpoints.’
    • ‘Authorities said at least 150,000 civilians fleeing the fighting needed emergency food and shelter.’
    • ‘Most of the estimated 300 000 victims were civilians, according to the United Nations.’
    non-military person, non-combatant, ordinary citizen, private citizen
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 informal A person who is not a member of a particular profession or group, as viewed by a member of that group.
      • ‘I talk to a lot of actresses and they say that civilians are scared of them’
      • ‘There's a wonderful passage in Michael Tolin's book, ‘The Player’, in which the titular Hollywood executive Griffin Mill waxes venomous about ‘civilians’.’
      • ‘Like a family —or a cult—AA has its own language, recognizable only to initiates. People who aren't in AA are known as civilians.’
      • ‘Do famous people have to go out with other famous people? 'No, the girl I'm seeing now is a civilian.'’
      • ‘When you're a football player, you're a football player, not a civilian.’
      • ‘‘She's a civilian’, Gillette said, using the hacker term for a casual computer user.’
      • ‘People in show business refer to those outside of it as civilians.’
      • ‘Was he a civilian or a celebrity?’
      • ‘Many civilians outside the wonderful world of the City, having been lectured about their overdrafts, assumed that the banks were paragons of financial conservatism.’


  • Relating to civilians.

    ‘civilian clothes’
    • ‘We have an ethical duty to avoid civilian casualties wherever possible.’
    • ‘Counterfeit papers and civilian clothes were produced for use by escapees.’
    • ‘Most soldiers mix the uniform with civilian clothes because items are out of stock.’
    • ‘Many of the paramilitaries are wearing civilian clothes and hiding amongst the population.’
    • ‘Granting leave to wear civilian clothes would have pre-empted the hunger strikes.’
    • ‘Full details are not yet available and estimates vary as to the number of civilian casualties.’
    • ‘The arrest was a seizure by seven armed men dressed in civilian clothes who abducted him in an unlicensed car.’
    • ‘The man next to him was dressed in civilian clothes and carried a brown briefcase.’
    • ‘I got back to the hotel and my room had been let and my civilian clothes had been lost.’
    • ‘The mother is in civilian clothes, but she might almost as well wear the habit.’
    • ‘The hotels were hit with rocket fire, causing three civilian casualties.’
    • ‘Such actions will yield large civilian casualties, displaced populations, and refugee flows.’
    • ‘The conflict claims roughly four civilian lives for every soldier or alleged guerrilla killed.’
    • ‘Besides torture and ill-treatment, civilian contractors are also accused of involvement in wrongful deaths.’
    • ‘Civilian contractors may work well enough in peacetime, critics say.’
    • ‘You don't attack civilian populations, destroy crops, poison wells and so on.’
    • ‘They were allowed to carry guns in their civilian clothes when they're off duty.’
    • ‘The team ensured that civilian airliners and local mustering aircraft were kept out of the way of the fast jets.’
    • ‘The plane was the first civilian airliner to be hit by insurgents.’
    • ‘And the 94 working as civilian staff comprise just 2.8 per cent of the workforce.’
    non-military, non-combatant, civil
    View synonyms


Late Middle English (denoting a practitioner of civil law): from Old French civilien, in the phrase droit civilien ‘civil law’. The current sense arose in the early 19th century.