We the People: Civis

Work your way through these lists focused on Greek and Latin roots representing people and the social units they form: genus, ethnos, demos, populus, socius, civis, anthropos
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definitions & notes only words
  1. civilization
    the achievement of an advanced stage of social development
    Since the dawn of civilization, people have been fascinated by the behavior of others, particularly when it is outside of society’s norm.
    Washington Times (Sep 21, 2015)
    civis (townsman) + ization (suffix forming nouns)
    Before "civilization" became a broad term for an advanced stage of social development for humans as a species or for a specific society, it referred only to the laws that civilized the criminal process. These laws limited punishments seen as cruel and barbaric.
  2. civilize
    raise from a barbaric to a civilized state
    Never again, the civilized world says of the Holocaust, an evil perpetuated over many years.
    US News (Aug 10, 2015)
    civis (townsman) + ize (suffix forming verbs)
    The verb also means "teach or refine to be discriminative in taste or judgment" but that does not apply here. In addition to using the word as a participial adjective, the example sentence is focused on contrasting the evil cruelties of the Holocaust with our responsibilities as humans of a civilized world.
  3. civility
    formal or perfunctory politeness
    Most societies have successfully maintained standards of civility and respect while keeping open avenues for those who are funny, uncivil and offensive.
    Seattle Times (Jan 10, 2015)
    civis (townsman) + ity (suffix forming abstract nouns)
    The noun also means "the act of showing regard for others." Both definitions could fit the example sentence, but a standard of behavior among strangers often involves the colder and more distant tone connected with formal politeness. The structure of the example sentence also suggests that civility and respect are similar attitudes that are the opposite of funny.
  4. civic
    of or relating to or befitting citizens as individuals
    This lack of regard, or even awareness, of the civic mission of schools is, historically speaking, a sea change.
    US News (Sep 17, 2015)
    civis (townsman) + ic (suffix forming adjectives)
    During the 16th century, the adjective was mostly seen as a modifier for "crown." In contrast to the wreaths ancient Greeks and Romans awarded to winners of athletic, poetic, and military contests, a civic crown was awarded to people who saved a fellow citizen in battle.
  5. civics
    the study of the duties and rights of citizenship
    High school history and civics courses are the first line of defense for preparing children to be engaged and active citizens in the political process.
    Salon (Aug 5, 2015)
    civis (townsman) + ics (suffix forming names of sciences or disciplines)
    According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, here are some questions that a civics course might explore:
    1) Who has the full rights and obligations of a citizen?
    2) In what communities ought we see ourselves as citizens?
    3) What responsibilities does a citizen of each kind of community have?
  6. civilian
    a nonmilitary citizen
    At the beginning of World War II we were horrified to see the German air forces murdering civilians in Warsaw and later at Rotterdam.
    US News (Sep 28, 2015)
    civis (townsman) + ian (suffix forming adjectives)
    A civilian used to be a judge or authority on civil law. Later, a civilian was anyone who was not a soldier. That definition no longer covers the expanded roles in the military. As an adjective, the word can describe any action or belonging of a nonmilitary citizen; in the past, it also described a civil warmth that was friendly, popular, and not rude.
  7. civil liberty
    fundamental individual right protected by law and expressed as immunity from unwarranted governmental interference
    Understanding this history of immigration restriction and civil liberties violations is critical to the current debate over birthright citizenship.
    US News (Aug 25, 2015)
    civis (townsman); liber (free)
    In Latin, birthright citizenship is referred to as "jus soli" which translates into "right of the soil" and means that any person born on a nation's soil has the right to be a citizen. This contrasts with "jus sanguinis" which translates into "right of blood" and means that any person born within a nation is a citizen if one parent already is. Most countries recognize "jus sanguinis" but outside of North and South America, "jus soli" is rarely granted.
  8. civil service
    government workers
    A modern civil service system did not emerge until much later, under the administration of President Theodore Roosevelt.
    Washington Times (Sep 29, 2015)
    civis (townsman); servus (slave)
    A civil service system was first used by ancient Chinese dynasties who wanted to select the best administrative officials to help run the empire. This later inspired the British Empire's East India Company to establish a college to train and send civil servants abroad to protect its interests. In the US, the civil service was created to reform the spoils system, which caused President Garfield to be assassinated.
  9. civil suit
    a lawsuit alleging violations of civil law by the defendant
    A civil suit that leads to a settlement or court order, therefore, could ultimately be more important than a criminal prosecution.
    Slate (Nov 26, 2014)
    civis (townsman); sequi (to attend, follow)
    The legal sense of a suit was first used in the 14th century. The uniform of court attendants led to its meaning as a matching set of clothing. Although a civil suit does not have the same procedures as a criminal prosecution, both "suit" and "prosecution" come from the same Latin root.
  10. uncivilized
    without civilizing influences
    Philosophers and anthropologists have studied the question as a way of assessing human nature in its most raw and uncivilized form.
    Washington Post (Jul 9, 2015)
    un (prefix meaning "not") + civis (townsman) + ize (suffix forming verbs)
    According to the article, the question is: What is the root of these unspeakable actions? The unspeakable actions are the forms of torture that people have come up with throughout history in order to punish their enemies, show their power, and discourage others from fighting with them.

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