civilization

Civilization is the opposite of barbarism and chaos. Civilization is an advanced stage of human society, where people live with a reasonable degree of organization and comfort and can think about things like art and education.

Civilization covers a wide range of human achievement — from the ancient Egyptians, to Mayan and Chinese civilizations, Western civilization, and everything in between. You can use the word more generally — when you're lost in the woods, you’ll be looking for signs of civilization — lights in the distance and smoke rising from chimneys. Civilization comes from Latin civis, "citizen." If you've got citizens, then you've got government and you're moving right along on the path of human advancement.

Definitions of civilization
  1. noun
    a society in an advanced state of social development (e.g., with complex legal and political and religious organizations)
    “the people slowly progressed from barbarism to civilization
    synonyms: civilisation
    see moresee less
    types:
    Islam, Muslimism
    the civilization of Muslims collectively which is governed by the Muslim religion
    type of:
    society
    an extended social group having a distinctive cultural and economic organization
  2. noun
    the social process whereby societies achieve an advanced stage of development and organization
    synonyms: civilisation
    see moresee less
    type of:
    social process
    a process involved in the formation of groups of persons
  3. noun
    a particular society at a particular time and place
    “early Mayan civilization
    synonyms: civilisation, culture
    see moresee less
    types:
    show 10 types...
    hide 10 types...
    Aegean civilisation, Aegean civilization, Aegean culture
    the prehistoric civilization on the islands in the Aegean sea and the surrounding countries
    Helladic civilisation, Helladic civilization, Helladic culture
    the bronze-age culture of mainland Greece that flourished 2500-1100 BC
    Indus civilization
    the bronze-age culture of the Indus valley that flourished from about 2600-1750 BC
    Minoan civilisation, Minoan civilization, Minoan culture
    the bronze-age culture of Crete that flourished 3000-1100 BC
    Mycenaean civilisation, Mycenaean civilization, Mycenaean culture
    the late bronze-age culture of Mycenae that flourished 1400-1100 BC
    Paleo-American culture, Paleo-Amerind culture, Paleo-Indian culture
    the prehistoric culture of the earliest human inhabitants of North America and South America
    Western civilization, Western culture
    the modern culture of western Europe and North America
    Cyclades, Cycladic civilisation, Cycladic civilization, Cycladic culture
    the Bronze Age civilization on the Cyclades islands in the southern Aegean Sea that flourished 3000-1100 BC
    Clovis culture
    the Paleo-American culture of Central America and North America; distinguished chiefly by sharp fluted projectile points made of obsidian or chalcedony
    Folsom culture
    the Paleo-American culture of Central America and North America; distinguished chiefly by a thin finely made flint projectile point having the shape of a leaf
    type of:
    society
    an extended social group having a distinctive cultural and economic organization
  4. noun
    the quality of excellence in thought and manners and taste
    “he is remembered for his generosity and civilization
    synonyms: civilisation, refinement
    see moresee less
    type of:
    excellence
    the quality of excelling; possessing good qualities in high degree
Word Family
EDITOR’S CHOICE

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.

SAT/PSAT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

TOEFL

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week