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3 definitions found
 for Civil action
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

  Civil \Civ"il\, a. [L. civilis, fr. civis citizen: cf. F. civil.
     See City.]
     1. Pertaining to a city or state, or to a citizen in his
        relations to his fellow citizens or to the state; within
        the city or state.
        [1913 Webster]
  
     2. Subject to government; reduced to order; civilized; not
        barbarous; -- said of the community.
        [1913 Webster]
  
              England was very rude and barbarous; for it is but
              even the other day since England grew civil.
                                                    --Spenser.
        [1913 Webster]
  
     3. Performing the duties of a citizen; obedient to
        government; -- said of an individual.
        [1913 Webster]
  
              Civil men come nearer the saints of God than others;
              they come within a step or two of heaven. --Preston
        [1913 Webster]
  
     4. Having the manners of one dwelling in a city, as opposed
        to those of savages or rustics; polite; courteous;
        complaisant; affable.
        [1913 Webster]
  
     Note: "A civil man now is one observant of slight external
           courtesies in the mutual intercourse between man and
           man; a civil man once was one who fulfilled all the
           duties and obligations flowing from his position as a
           'civis' and his relations to the other members of that
           'civitas.'" --Trench
           [1913 Webster]
  
     5. Pertaining to civic life and affairs, in distinction from
        military, ecclesiastical, or official state.
        [1913 Webster]
  
     6. Relating to rights and remedies sought by action or suit
        distinct from criminal proceedings.
        [1913 Webster]
  
     Civil action, an action to enforce the rights or redress
        the wrongs of an individual, not involving a criminal
        proceeding.
  
     Civil architecture, the architecture which is employed in
        constructing buildings for the purposes of civil life, in
        distinction from military and naval architecture, as
        private houses, palaces, churches, etc.
  
     Civil death. (Law.) See under Death.
  
     Civil engineering. See under Engineering.
  
     Civil law. See under Law.
  
     Civil list. See under List.
  
     Civil remedy (Law), that given to a person injured, by
        action, as opposed to a criminal prosecution.
  
     Civil service, all service rendered to and paid for by the
        state or nation other than that pertaining to naval or
        military affairs.
  
     Civil service reform, the substitution of business
        principles and methods for the spoils system in the
        conduct of the civil service, esp. in the matter of
        appointments to office.
  
     Civil state, the whole body of the laity or citizens not
        included under the military, maritime, and ecclesiastical
        states.
  
     Civil suit. Same as Civil action.
  
     Civil war. See under War.
  
     Civil year. See under Year.
        [1913 Webster]

From WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006) :

  civil action
      n 1: legal action to protect a private civil right or to compel
           a civil remedy (as distinguished from criminal prosecution)

From Bouvier's Law Dictionary, Revised 6th Ed (1856) :

  CIVIL ACTION. In New York, actions are divided only into two kinds, namely, 
  criminal and civil. A criminal action is prosecuted by the state, as a 
  party, against a person charged with a public offence, for the punishment 
  thereof. Every other action is a civil action. Code of Procedure, s. 4, 5, 
  6; 3 Bouv. Inst. n. 2638. In common parlance, however, writs of mandamus, 
  certiorari, habeas corpus, &c., are not comprised by the expression, civil 
  actions. 6 Bin. Rep. 9. 
  
  

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