Meaning of “civil” in the English Dictionary

"civil" in British English

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civiladjective

uk /ˈsɪv.əl/ us /ˈsɪv.əl/

civil adjective (ORDINARY)

C1 [ before noun ] not military or religious, or relating to the ordinary people of a country:

Helicopters are mainly used for military rather than civil use.
After ten years of military dictatorship, the country now has a civil government.
We weren't married in church, but we had a civil ceremony in a registry office.

More examples

  • He brought civil proceedings against the police for false imprisonment.
  • 20 years of civil strife have left the country's economy in ruins.
  • He pursued his claim through the civil courts.
  • They married in a civil ceremony.
  • The equipment was all for civil use.

(Definition of “civil” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"civil" in American English

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civiladjective

us /ˈsɪv·əl/

civil adjective (ORDINARY)

of or relating to the ordinary people of a country, rather than members of religious organizations or the military:

These helicopters are for rescue and other civil use.
We were married in a civil ceremony.

politics & government Civil also refers to the legal system governing personal and business matters:

civil court

civil adjective (POLITE)

polite and formal:

We were civil to each other, but we were both still angry.

(Definition of “civil” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"civil" in Business English

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civiladjective [ before noun ]

uk /ˈsɪvəl/ us LAW

relating to legal disagreements between people or businesses, rather than criminal activities:

civil action/lawsuit/case, etc. The Chapter 11 action suspended a civil trial in which two plaintiffs sought compensation totaling more than $160 million.
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(Definition of “civil” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)