To reclaim from a savage state to instruct when you look at the principles and traditions of society to educate to refine
- train or refine is discriminative in taste or judgment
- raise from a barbaric to a civilized state
- To reclaim from a savage condition; to instruct into the rules and traditions of civilization; to educate; to improve.
- To admit as ideal to a civilized state.
c.1600, "to create out of barbarism," from French civiliser, verb from Old French civil (adj.), from Latin civilis "relating to a citizen, concerning public life, befitting a citizen; well-known, affable, polite" (see civil). Indicating "become civilized" is from 1868. Related: Civilized; civilizing.
The missionaries were only the field workers sent out to convert and civilize the Indians, who were to be turned over then to the regular clergy, the monks pushing further onward into new fields.