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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
a civilian target
▪ The army denied it had attacked civilian targets.
civilian casualties (=people who are not soldiers who are injured or killed)
civilian casualties
civilian clothes (=ordinary clothes rather than a military uniform)
▪ a US army lieutenant in civilian clothes
▪ At the heart of the battle between the military and civilians was control of the budget.
▪ No driver wanted to plough heedlessly into a crowd of unarmed civilians.
▪ Countless unarmed civilians fleeing to the borders were killed by helicopter gunships.
▪ The convoy of 12 ambulance wagons and vans was frustrated throughout the day in efforts to extract injured civilians.
▪ In Bikernieki forest they killed 46,500 civilians.
▪ The truck that carried the copters explodes, killing police officers and civilians.
▪ Right-wing paramilitaries killed 25 civilians in six incidents.
▪ We had been taken outside earlier that morning to watch as three soldiers were shot for violating the order against killing civilians.
▪ They were not killing soldiers, they were killing civilians.
▪ All wars are brutal, but not all of them involve the mass killing of civilians.
▪ Along with the fresh arrivals on the Union side was a Gettysburg civilian named John Burns.
▪ Even during war, life must go on for civilians.
▪ In all 646 soldiers and civilians were arrested and accused of supporting the rebellion.
▪ It is not only against civilians.
▪ She said at least five of the corpses were those of civilians.
▪ Shots slammed into the walls inside the courtyard where the civilians cried and threw themselves on the ground.
▪ The people of Vicksburg, both soldiers and civilians, had swarmed out into the streets.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Civilian \Ci*vil"ian\, n. [From Civil]

  1. One skilled in the civil law.

    Ancient civilians and writers upon government.

  2. A student of the civil law at a university or college.
    --R. Graves.

  3. One whose pursuits are those of civil life, not military or clerical.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

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.


a. That which is not related to the military, police or other professions. n. 1 A person following the pursuits of civil life, especially one who is not an active member of the armed forces. 2 (label en informal) A person who does not belong to a particular group or engage in a particular activity. 3 One skilled in civil law. 4 A student of civil law at a university or college.


adj. associated with or performed by civilians as contrasted with the military; "civilian clothing"; "civilian life" [ant: military]


n. a nonmilitary citizen [ant: serviceman]


In general, a civilian is "a person who is not a member of the military or of a police or firefighting force", as defined by Merriam Webster's Dictionary. From the U.S. Department of Defense perspective, Chapter 18 of Title 10 United States Code refers to non-military law enforcement officers as civilians, since they are employees rather than enlisted personnel, and also in order to distinguish itself from military police. In military and law enforcement slang, the term "Civies" or "Civvies" are often used to refer civilian population or civilian clothing.

Under the laws of war (also known as international humanitarian law), a civilian is one not being a member of the armed services and does not take a direct part of hostilities in times of armed conflict. The term "civilian" is slightly different from a non-combatant under the laws of war, because some non-combatants are not civilians (for example, military chaplains attached to the belligerent armed forces or neutral military personnel). Under international law, civilians in the territories of a Party to an armed conflict are entitled to certain privileges under the customary laws of war and international treaties such as the Fourth Geneva Convention. The privileges that they enjoy under international law depends on whether the conflict is an internal one (a civil war) or an international one.

Civilian (Boy Kill Boy album)

Civilian is the debut album by Boy Kill Boy. It was released on May 22, 2006, and reached number 16 in the UK Album Chart.

Civilian (street artist)

Civilian is the nom de plume of Tom Civil a street artist, operating out of Melbourne, Australia, who has been profiled as a "leading player" of "the city's vibrant stencil art scene".

Civilian (Wye Oak album)

Civilian is the third studio album by indie band Wye Oak. It was released on March 8, 2011 by Merge Records in the United States and City Slang in Europe.

The A.V. Club named Civilian the best album of 2011.

Civilian (Gentle Giant album)

Civilian is the eleventh studio album by British band Gentle Giant, released in 1980. It was recorded in the Los Angeles suburb of Van Nuys with former Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick. Consisting mostly of single-length rock songs, it is closer to an AOR sound than the progressive style for which the band is best known. It was to be the final album of Gentle Giant's career; soon after its release the band played a last tour and then split up.

It also marked the reactivation of Columbia Records in the U.S. and Canada after an eight-year hiatus; the last Columbia album had been Gentle Giant's 1972 release Octopus.

An unreleased track, "Heroes No More", has been included on some CD reissues. Another track from the period, "You Haven't a Chance", appeared on Under Construction 17 years later.

Civilian (disambiguation)

A civilian under international humanitarian law is a person who is not a member of his or her country's armed forces.

Civilian may also refer to:

  • In a wider sense, any non- military person, organization or phenomenon
  • A specialist in Roman or modern civil law.
    • a member of the College of Civilians.
  • Civilian (Boy Kill Boy album)
  • Civilian (Gentle Giant album)
  • Civilian (Frank Tovey album)
  • Civilian (Wye Oak album)
  • Civilian (street artist)
  • Civilians (Joe Henry album)
  • Civilian (Adam Pascal album)
  • The Civilians, a New York-based "investigative" theatre company
  • Nissan Civilian, a light bus

Usage examples of "civilian".

Senator Glancey spearheaded a third group, ably supported by General Funkhauser, civilian leaders of the aircraft industry and many champions of private enterprise.

A group of officers had appeared there, their aiguillettes and epaulettes a dark gold in the wintry light, and in their midst were the chasseur in his red pelisse, and the civilian in his black coat and white boots.

Buildings were burning and most of the civilian population was running in aimless panic, looking for a place to escape the phaser beams and swinging blades of the savage invaders.

The crusty Sperren jabbered aimlessly about supposed civilians who disguised themselves as Green Riders and foolishly risked their lives to deliver unimportant messages to the king.

Crete and Cyprus and then head diagonally toward El Arish in the Sinai along an established civilian air corridor.

Besides, after building a few bombs in the back lot, I loved the idea of working with real explosives, and that did have civilian applications with all the inland construction going on as we developed the continent.

May 1857, that a telegram arrived at the fort informing the Resident and Brigadier General Sir James Cameron that Indian army sepoys had revolted in Meerut, killed their officers and British civilians in the town and were marching on Delhi to rally behind the Moghul Emperor, Bahadur Shah II, against the British.

And when Coffingswood was finished, the civilians received personal order from First Star Lord Sir Beorn Wyrood himself-via direct link with the Admiralty.

He was followed by a new Betan security patrolman, and a limping Betan civilian Miles had never seen before, who was gesticulating and complaining bitterly.

The Boche had paid this place some attention prior to his attack in July, and had not really left it alone, so that the civilians had made a rather hurried departure.

The Boche made unpleasant contributions to the proceedings by way of long range shelling by day and bombing by night, but although the 8th and the civilians suffered somewhat by these displays, the 7th escaped practically unhurt.

Ces Ambre, presumed killed in the Pax Base Bombasine massacre of Spectrum Helix civilians, had actually been shipped offworld with more than a thousand other children and young adults.

But it must have been obvious to the senior officers concerned that the German civilians were to be bombed, their homes and belongings destroyed, and, if they were not evacuated or given adequate air-raid shelters, they would be killed, burnt and mutilated in large numbers.

It was quite normal that, if a city had suffered a particularly heavy raid, several railway batteries would be sent there immediately, partly to strengthen the defences against any follow-up raids, but mainly to bolster the morale of the bombed civilians.

It simply meant that every man and woman working in the bombed city and all matters affecting civilian existence in it were now brought more closely under party control.