Wikipedia has a lot of occurrences for the word "civillians", such as:

At least 35 civillians were killed at the incident

I began fixing them to "civilians", but then had a question. Is "civillians" actually correct?

At least one dictionary has the term with two "l": http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Civillian but if I understand well it is listed as "Middle English". Is this an old word that should not be used in a modern encyclopedia?


According to the Oxford English Dictionary, civillian is one of the alternate forms of civilian:

Forms: lME cyuylian, lME cyuylien, lME sevilioun, lME–16 ciuilian, lME– civilian, 15 ciuiliane, 15 ciuillian, 15 cyuilian, 15 cyvilyan, 15–16 civillian, 16 civiliane, 16 civilyan

It does, however, clearly mark the spelling in question as from Late Middle English. NGrams indicate that the spelling is largely out of favor now:

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So while I don't think that you could necessarily say that using the word is wrong, it is definitely not fully modern.

  • @JasperLoy: Understatement. – Mechanical snail Aug 19 '12 at 5:44
  • 3
    You've misunderstood the "forms" line. "lME- civilian" means that the spelling "civilian" has been in use from late Middle English to present; "15-16 civillian" means that "civillian" was in use only in the 1500s-1600s. See the relevant section of the OED Guide for the details. So "civillian" is essentially wrong: it was used in the past, but only back in the days before spelling was standardized and when they also thought that "cyvilyan", "civiliane" and "civilyan" were reasonable. – David Richerby Feb 13 '14 at 21:34

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