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Definition of "civilize" [civ•i•lize]

  • To raise from barbarism to an enlightened stage of development; bring out of a primitive or savage state. (verb-transitive)
  • To educate in matters of culture and refinement; make more polished or sophisticated. (verb-transitive)

American Heritage(R) Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright (c) 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Use "civilize" in a sentence
  • "It was an idea far ahead of its time, born of a desire not merely to "civilize" a seemingly moribund Muslim world, but to unite East and West, the Baghdad Railway could have fostered not just greater economic integration for European benefit, but an inter-cultural renaissance across Eurasia as well evoking heyday of the great Muslim Empires -- Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal -- that last united these lands into one broad cultural ecumene."
  • "Afghanistan is far larger and more rural geographically than Iraq was; some say that to adequately occupy and "civilize" the full population would take hundreds of thousands -- if not millions -- of troops."
  • "And it definitely follows the pattern of a woman from the East coming out West to "civilize" it."