Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To improve and prepare (land), as by plowing or fertilizing, for raising crops; till.
  • transitive v. To loosen or dig soil around (growing plants).
  • transitive v. To grow or tend (a plant or crop).
  • transitive v. To promote the growth of (a biological culture).
  • transitive v. To nurture; foster. See Synonyms at nurture.
  • transitive v. To form and refine, as by education.
  • transitive v. To seek the acquaintance or goodwill of; make friends with.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To grow plants, notably crops
  • v. To nurture; to foster; to tend.
  • v. To turn or stir soil in preparation for planting.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To bestow attention, care, and labor upon, with a view to valuable returns; to till; to fertilize.
  • transitive v. To direct special attention to; to devote time and thought to; to foster; to cherish.
  • transitive v. To seek the society of; to court intimacy with.
  • transitive v. To improve by labor, care, or study; to impart culture to; to civilize; to refine.
  • transitive v. To raise or produce by tillage; to care for while growing.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To till; prepare for crops; manure, plow, dress, sow, and reap; manage and improve in husbandry: as, to cultivate land; to cultivate a farm.
  • To raise or produce by tillage: as, to cultivate corn or grass.
  • To use a cultivator upon; run a cultivator through: as, to cultivate a field of standing corn. See cultivator .
  • To improve and strengthen by labor or study; promote the development or increase of; cherish; foster: as, to cultivate talents; to cultivate a taste for poetry.
  • To direct special attention to; devote study, labor, or care to; study to understand, derive advantage from, etc.: as, to cultivate literature; to cultivate an acquaintance.
  • To improve; meliorate; correct; civilize.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. prepare for crops
  • v. teach or refine to be discriminative in taste or judgment
  • v. foster the growth of
  • v. adapt (a wild plant or unclaimed land) to the environment

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Medieval Latin cultīvāre, cultīvāt-, from cultīvus, tilled, from Latin cultus, past participle of colere, to till.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Medieval Latin cultivātus, perfect passive participle of cultivō ("till, cultivate"), from cultīvus ("tilled"), from Latin cultus, perfect passive participle of colō ("till, cultivate"), which comes from earlier *quelō, from Proto-Indo-European *kʷel- (“to move; to turn (around)”). Cognates include Ancient Greek πέλω (pelō) and Sanskrit चरति (cárati). The same Proto-Indo-European root also gave Latin in-quil-īnus ("inhabitant") and anculus ("servant").

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