Difference between Citizen and Civilian

Key difference: The term citizen denotes a person who is generally accepted as a resident or subject of a country by its government. The term civilian, on the other hand, denotes any person who is not part of the military or any armed forces.

Citizen The terms citizen and civilian are often confused, primarily because the two terms sound similar and both are used to describe a person. However, the two terms are quite different in the manner of their usage.

The term citizen denotes a person who is generally accepted as a resident or subject of a country by its government. The manner of either citizenship does not matter, whether it was native or naturalized, i.e. by birth or by moving to that country and becoming a citizen. Basically, a citizen is any person who is recognized as a resident by the government and that is protect by rights and liberties as provided by that government.

The term civilian, on the other hand, denotes any person who is not part of the military or any armed forces. Hence, it can be said that a civilian is just any regular person. As long as they are not actively part of the armed forces, them they can be deemed as a civilian. 

CivilianThe two terms are independent of one another. A person can be both, a citizen of any country and a civilian; they can be either, a citizen but not a civilian, i.e. in the military; or a civilian that is not part of that country. A person may be neither, nor a recognized citizen of any country but still part of the military or a militant group. However, these kinds of situations are quite rare.

Let’s consider an example: a soldier in the British Army is a British citizen. They have to be a citizen in order to be able to enlist in the army. As part of the army, they cannot be considered a civilian. Whereas, a tourist visiting the country is most likely a civilian, i.e. not part of any military or militant groups, but that does not make them a British citizen.

Comparison between Citizen and Civilian:

 

Citizen

Civilian

Definition (Oxford Dictionaries)

A legally recognized subject or national of a state or commonwealth, either native or naturalized.

A person not in the armed services or the police force.

Description

Any resident of a country that has certain rights and liberties

Not part of any military or militant group

Military

May or may not be a part of the military

Is not a part of the military

Citizenship

Has citizenship

May or may not have a citizenship

Reference: Oxford Dictionaires (Citizen and Civilian), Wikipedia (Citizen and Civilian)
Image Courtesy: boroondara.vic.gov.au, linkedin.com

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