c. 1600, "to bring out of barbarism, introduce order and civil organization among, refine and enlighten," from French civiliser, verb from Old French civil (adj.), from Latin civilis "relating to a citizen, relating to public life, befitting a citizen; popular, affable, courteous," alternative adjectival derivative of civis "townsman" (see city). Intransitive meaning "become civilized" is from 1868. Related: Civilized; civilizing.
1704, in a now-obsolete sense "law which makes a criminal process civil," from civil + -ization. Sense of "civilized condition, state of being reclaimed from the rudeness of savage life" first recorded 1772, probably from French civilisation, serving as an opposite to barbarity and a distinct word from civility. From civilize + -ation. Sense of "a particular human society in a civilized condition, considered as a whole over time," is from 1857. Related: Civilizational.
It forms all or part of: ceilidh; cemetery; city; civic; civil; civilian; civilization; civilize; hide (n.2) measure of land; incivility; incunabula; Siva.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit Sivah "propitious, gracious;" Greek keisthai "to lie, lie asleep;" Latin cunae "a cradle;" Old Church Slavonic semija "family, domestic servants;" Lithuanian šeima "domestic servants," Lettish sieva "wife;" Old English hiwan "members of a household."