cul·​ture | \ ˈkəl-chər How to pronounce culture (audio) \

Definition of culture

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group also : the characteristic features of everyday existence (such as diversions or a way of life) shared by people in a place or time popular culture Southern culture
b : the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization a corporate culture focused on the bottom line
c : the set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic studying the effect of computers on print culture Changing the culture of materialism will take time …— Peggy O'Mara
d : the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations
2a : enlightenment and excellence of taste acquired by intellectual and aesthetic training
b : acquaintance with and taste in fine arts, humanities, and broad aspects of science as distinguished from vocational and technical skills a person of culture
3 : the act or process of cultivating living material (such as bacteria or viruses) in prepared nutrient media also : a product of such cultivation
4 : cultivation, tillage We ought to blame the culture, not the soil.— Alexander Pope
5 : the act of developing the intellectual and moral faculties especially by education
6 : expert care and training beauty culture


cultured; culturing\ ˈkəlch-​riŋ How to pronounce culture (audio) , ˈkəl-​chə-​ \

Definition of culture (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : cultivate
2a : to grow in a prepared medium culture microorganisms
b : to start a culture from (see culture entry 1 sense 3) culture soil

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Synonyms & Antonyms for culture

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Noun

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Examples of culture in a Sentence

Noun In this new view, genes allow the human mind to learn, remember, imitate, imprint language, absorb culture and express instincts. — Matt Ridley, Time, 2 June 2003 Such an explanation seems sensible to a technologically advanced and ruthlessly competitive culture like our own, where anybody who fails to get at least a college degree … risks spending a life busing tables or telemarketing. — Natalie Angier, New York Times, 2 July 2002 There is an Arctic Indian tribe, the Gwich'in—the northernmost Indians in the United States—who base their diet and culture on the caribou. — Jimmy Carter, National Geographic Traveler, October 2001 Underlying the question "Is this as good as it gets?" was a female j'accuse—against a consumer culture where values like caring had been severely discounted. — Susan Faludi, Newsweek, 8 Jan. 2001 a study of Greek language and culture Her art shows the influence of pop culture. It's important to learn about other cultures. The company's corporate culture is focused on increasing profits. an area that has been criticized for its lack of culture Verb The virus is cultured in the laboratory from samples of infected tissue. culture bacteria in laboratory dishes
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun With the varying levels of uncertainty that accompany those roster decisions in mind, the Pelicans are piecing together a sustainable championship culture from the ground up this offseason as their last few moves make evident. Christopher Dodson, Forbes, "New Orleans Pelicans Signal Roster Building Strategy, Sign Naji Marshall To Guaranteed Deal," 6 May 2021 The real question is whether the cell culture data have any relevance to human health or diagnostics. Jon Cohen, Science | AAAS, "Further evidence offered for claim that genes of pandemic coronavirus can integrate with human DNA," 6 May 2021 These gifts are from brands founded, co-founded, or owned by mothers and their products are beloved by travelers, cooks, and culture-appreciators across the globe. Kendall Cornish, Travel + Leisure, "14 Last-minute Mother’s Day Gifts From Brands Started by Moms," 6 May 2021 The state, which has a strong gun culture, counts more than 1.6 million individuals with active licenses to carry, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. Sara Murray, CNN, "Texas moves toward permit-free gun carrying, joining five other states this year," 6 May 2021 Swig is proud of his efforts, and sees real progress educating young people on the app about Jewish culture. Raisa Bruner, Time, "On Clubhouse, a Global Jewish Community Takes Root," 6 May 2021 Person and Silver both have seen nonviolent protest practices trickle down into today’s advocacy culture. Ayano Nagaishi, USA Today, "Could the Freedom Riders make a difference against today’s racism?," 5 May 2021 Pop culture, in fits and starts, seems to be picking up on our looming lasciviousness. Amanda Mull, The Atlantic, "What to Wear to Reenter Society," 5 May 2021 Cinco de Mayo plans include Quesa Birria Day to celebrate the food, drink and culture of Mexico. Ben Flanagan |, al, "11 Mexican restaurants we love in Alabama," 5 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb To be sure, food isn’t new to culture war politics. Thomas Beaumont, Anchorage Daily News, "Red meat politics: GOP turns culture war into a food fight," 7 May 2021 The pandemic has upended everything in the organizational supply chain from product, to leadership, to culture. Billee Howard, Forbes, "A Conversation With Moët Hennessy’s Carlos Zepeda On Democratizing Insights + Retention As The New Acquisition," 4 Apr. 2021 Stars hired her not only for her vocal ability but for the full history and culture her voice brings to a recording. New York Times, "The Unstoppable Merry Clayton," 28 Mar. 2021 March is Women’s History Month, a time set aside to honor the contributions women have made to culture and society. Leada Gore |, al, "Barbie Inspiring Women series at Walmart has Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, Eleanor Roosevelt dolls," 24 Mar. 2021 As Technology Review points out, other researchers are actively studying ways to culture artificial human embryos by prompting human stem cells to divide and grow. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Scientists Grew a Mouse Embryo Outside the Womb. Are Humans Next?," 18 Mar. 2021 This also includes the resumption of the opportunity to travel, which is valuable to culture, trade and enterprise. Alex Ledsom, Forbes, "Iceland Opens Borders To Vaccinated U.S. Travelers–First EU/Schengen Country To Do So," 18 Mar. 2021 Over the years, as Asian-Americans moved into Atlanta’s suburbs and exurbs, new neighborhoods sprang up and culture spread. New York Times, "The Growing Power of Asian-Americans in Georgia Now Comes With Fear," 18 Mar. 2021 Because there's no one story about food, everyone has their own individual experiences that may ladder up to culture for them. Sonia Chopra, Bon Appétit, "Waffles + Mochi Creators on Working With Michelle Obama and Breaking the Rules of Kids’ Shows," 18 Mar. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'culture.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of culture


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4


1510, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for culture

Noun and Verb

Middle English, cultivated land, cultivation, from Anglo-French, from Latin cultura, from cultus, past participle — see cult

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Time Traveler for culture

Time Traveler

The first known use of culture was in the 15th century

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Statistics for culture

Last Updated

9 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Culture.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for culture



English Language Learners Definition of culture

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or time
: a particular society that has its own beliefs, ways of life, art, etc.
: a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization (such as a business)



English Language Learners Definition of culture (Entry 2 of 2)

technical : to grow (something) in controlled conditions


cul·​ture | \ ˈkəl-chər How to pronounce culture (audio) \

Kids Definition of culture

2 : the raising or development (as of a crop or product) by careful attention grape culture
3 : the appreciation and knowledge of the arts (as music, dance, and painting)
4 : the habits, beliefs, and traditions of a particular people, place, or time Greek culture


cul·​ture | \ ˈkəl-chər How to pronounce culture (audio) \

Medical Definition of culture

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : the integrated pattern of human behavior that includes thought, speech, action, and artifacts and depends upon the human capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations
b : the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group
2a : the act or process of growing living material (as bacteria or viruses) in prepared nutrient media
b : a product of cultivation in nutrient media

Other Words from culture

cultural \ ˈkəlch(-​ə)-​rəl How to pronounce culture (audio) \ adjective
culturally \ -​rə-​lē How to pronounce culture (audio) \ adverb


transitive verb
cultured; culturing\ ˈkəlch-​(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce culture (audio) \

Medical Definition of culture (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to grow (as microorganisms or tissues) in a prepared medium
2 : to start a culture from culture soil also : to make a culture of culture milk

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