The Law Dictionary

Your Free Online Legal Dictionary • Featuring Black’s Law Dictionary, 2nd Ed.

CIVIL Definition & Legal Meaning

Definition & Citations:

In its original sense, this word means pertaining or appropriate to a member of a civitas or free political community; natural or proper to a citizen. Also, relating to the community, or to the policy and government of the citizens and subjects of a state. In the language of the law, It has various significations. In contradistinction to barbarous or savage, it indicates a state of society reduced to order and regular government; thus, we speak of civil life, civil society, civil government, and civil liberty. In contradistinction to criminal, it indicates the private rights and remedies of men, as members of the community, in contrast to those which are public and relate to the government ; thus, we speak of civil process and criminal process, civil jurisdiction and criminal jurisdiction. It is also used in contradistinction to military or ecclesiastical, to natural or foreign; thus, we speak of a civil station, as opposed to a military or an ecclesiastical station; a civil death, as opposed to a natural death ; a civil war, as opposed to a foreign war. Story, Const, i 791.


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