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


Medieval Latin cultīvāre, cultīvāt-, from cultīvus, tilled, from Latin cultus, past participle of colere, to till.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
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"). (Wiktionary)



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