Other forms: civilized; civilizing; civilizes

To civilize is to make someone or something more tame or refined, and less wild. You might try to civilize your younger brother by teaching him some table manners.

You can attempt to civilize your crazy dog, so you can invite people over without having her jump on them and chew on their shoes. You can also civilize a person by teaching them to be more sophisticated or tasteful: "My aunt tried to civilize me by taking me to museums and ballets, but I preferred watching professional wrestling on TV." The Latin word civilis is at the root of civilized, meaning "befitting a citizen" or "courteous."

Definitions of civilize
  1. verb
    raise from a barbaric to a civilized state
    “The wild child found wandering in the forest was gradually civilized
    synonyms: civilise
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    type of:
    alter, change, modify
    cause to change; make different; cause a transformation
  2. verb
    teach or refine to be discriminative in taste or judgment
    synonyms: civilise, cultivate, educate, school, train
    see moresee less
    make less natural or innocent
    type of:
    down, fine-tune, polish, refine
    improve or perfect by pruning or polishing
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