from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The arts, beliefs, customs, institutions, and other products of human work and thought considered as a unit, especially with regard to a particular time or social group.
  • noun These arts, beliefs, and other products considered with respect to a particular subject or mode of expression.
  • noun The set of predominating attitudes and behavior that characterize a group or organization.
  • noun Mental refinement and sophisticated taste resulting from the appreciation of the arts and sciences.
  • noun Special training and development.
  • noun The cultivation of soil; tillage.
  • noun The breeding or cultivation of animals or plants for food, the improvement of stock, or other purposes.
  • noun The growing of microorganisms, tissue cells, or other living matter in a specially prepared nutrient medium.
  • noun Such a growth or colony, as of bacteria.
  • transitive verb To cultivate (soil or plants).
  • transitive verb To grow (microorganisms or other living matter) in a specially prepared nutrient medium.
  • transitive verb To use (a substance) as a medium for culture.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To cultivate: as, “cultured vales,”
  • noun In a map, all those features represented which are artificial or of human origin, such as meridians, roads, railroads, trails, ferries, bridges, houses, etc.
  • noun The act of tilling and preparing the earth for crops; tillage; cultivation.
  • noun The act of promoting growth in animals or plants, but especially in the latter; specifically, the process of raising plants with a view to the production of improved varieties.
  • noun Hence— In bacteriology: The propagation of bacteria or other microscopic organisms by the introduction of the germs into suitably prepared fluids or other media, or of parasitic fungi upon living plants. Also called cultivation.
  • noun The product of such culture.
  • noun The systematic improvement and refinement of the mind, especially of one's own.
  • noun The result of mental cultivation, or the state of being cultivated; refinement or enlightenment; learning and taste; in a broad sense, civilization: as, a man of culture.
  • noun The training of the human body.
  • noun The pursuit of any art or science with a view to its improvement.
  • noun Cultivated ground.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To cultivate; to educate.
  • noun The act or practice of cultivating, or of preparing the earth for seed and raising crops by tillage.
  • noun The act of, or any labor or means employed for, training, disciplining, or refining the moral and intellectual nature of man.
  • noun The state of being cultivated; result of cultivation; physical improvement; enlightenment and discipline acquired by mental and moral training; civilization; refinement in manners and taste.
  • noun The cultivation of bacteria or other organisms (such as fungi or eukaryotic cells from mulitcellular organisms) in artificial media or under artificial conditions.
  • noun The collection of organisms resulting from such a cultivation.
  • noun (Cartography) Those details of a map, collectively, which do not represent natural features of the area delineated, as names and the symbols for towns, roads, houses, bridges, meridians, and parallels.
  • noun a fluid in which microscopic organisms are made to develop, either for purposes of study or as a means of modifying their virulence. If the fluid is gelled by, for example, the use of agar, it then is called, depending on the vessel in which the gelled medium is contained, a plate, a slant, or a stab.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The arts, customs, and habits that characterize a particular society or nation.
  • noun The beliefs, values, behaviour and material objects that constitute a people's way of life.
  • noun microbiology The process of growing a bacterial or other biological entity in an artificial medium.
  • noun anthropology Any knowledge passed from one generation to the next, not necessarily with respect to human beings.
  • noun The collective noun for a group of bacteria.
  • noun botany Cultivation.
  • noun computing The language and peculiarities of a geographical location.
  • verb transitive To maintain in an environment suitable for growth (especially of bacteria).
  • verb transitive To increase the artistic or scientific interest (in something).

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

  • noun a particular society at a particular time and place
  • noun all the knowledge and values shared by a society
  • noun a highly developed state of perfection; having a flawless or impeccable quality
  • noun the attitudes and behavior that are characteristic of a particular social group or organization
  • noun the tastes in art and manners that are favored by a social group


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

[Middle English, cultivation, from Old French, from Latin cultūra, from cultus, past participle of colere; see cultivate.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin cultūra ("cultivation; culture"), from cultus, perfect passive participle of colō ("till, cultivate, worship") (related to colōnus and colōnia), from earlier *quelō, from Proto-Indo-European *kʷel- (“to move; to turn (around)”).


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word culture.


  • (c) The people of the culture farther west, the _north-west culture_, were not Mongols.

    A History of China Wolfram Eberhard 1949

  • Here, too, the line of the extant culture, -- the narrow indented boundary of the _culture_ that professed to take all is always defining the new, -- cutting out the wild not yet visited by the art of man; -- only here the criticism is much more lively, because here 'we come _to particulars_,' a thing which the new philosophy -- much insists on; and though this want in learning, and the wildness it leaves, is that which makes tragedies in this method of exhibition; it has its comical aspect also; and this is the laughing and weeping philosopher in one who manages these representations; and in this case it is the comical aspect of the subject that is seized on.

    The Philosophy of the Plays of Shakspere Unfolded Delia Bacon 1835

  • But trying to come up with a definition made me realize just how vast and encompassing the term "culture" actually was and how many things together make up the culture of a group or civilization.

    Zoe P. Strassfield: The Best First Day of School Ever! Zoe P. Strassfield 2011

  • The general tendency in American culture is away from objectivity and neutral rules and toward Who?

    The Volokh Conspiracy » The Ninth Circuit Rodriguez Opinion and Speech in Non-Academic Workplaces 2010

  • But trying to come up with a definition made me realize just how vast and encompassing the term "culture" actually was and how many things together make up the culture of a group or civilization.

    Zoe P. Strassfield: The Best First Day of School Ever! Zoe P. Strassfield 2011

  • So, to properly evangelize in culture today, we've got to know what the culture is saying.

    Jesus is my IT geek Andrew Beckner 2007

  • Fully restoring New Orleans to its formerly unique and permanent place in American culture is this nation's greatest domestic challenge.

    Archive 2007-08-01 2007

  • So, to properly evangelize in culture today, we've got to know what the culture is saying.

    Archive 2007-08-01 Andrew Beckner 2007

  • The Future of White Boy clubs at FactoryCity the issue of diversity in culture is intractable and unsolvable.

    The Future of White Boy clubs | FactoryCity 2006

  • There are two senses in which the term culture war or cultural war is used.

    Bush is on a Mission from God 2007


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn't work, don't buy it."

    -Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom

    July 27, 2009

  • "Culture is everything we don't have to do. Culture consists of the gratuitous stylistic extras that we add to the things we do have to do. You have to eat, but you don't have to decorate elaborately prepared curries with silver leaf. You have to move around, but you don't have to dance. Culture is a biological drive for humans. It is not something that we just add on at the end, after we've dealt with all those survival problems, but something we keep doing all the time."

    - Brian Eno.

    December 14, 2009