To civilize is to make someone or something more tame or refined, and less wild. A new police chief might try to civilize a city by cracking down on small crimes.

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

v raise from a barbaric to a civilized state

“The wild child found wandering in the forest was gradually civilized
Type of:
alter, change, modify
cause to change; make different; cause a transformation

v teach or refine to be discriminative in taste or judgment

civilise, cultivate, educate, school, train
make less natural or innocent
Type of:
down, fine-tune, polish, refine
improve or perfect by pruning or polishing

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