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 culturing (audio) , ˈkəl-​chə-​ \

Definition of culture (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Apple has seldom allowed people to work from home, owing to the company’s culture of secrecy and emphasis on in-person meetings. Arielle Pardes, Wired, "Silicon Valley Rethinks the (Home) Office," 15 May 2020 The festival was offering participants the chance to explore the sights, sounds and tastes of all the different cultures of Asia through games, performances, food and vendors at the Indiana State Museum on June 21. Chris Sims, The Indianapolis Star, "Looking forward to your favorite Indiana festival? Coronavirus may be changing your plans," 15 May 2020 Joyce was invested in the local culture and maintained a deep connection to her family, friends, and supporters around the world. Fox News, "American Christian missionary dies in plane crash delivering coronavirus aid in Indonesia," 14 May 2020 For example, strains of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan that were more similar to those in Washington and California were less aggressive in cell culture than those that were more similar to Europe. Adam M. Brufsky, The Conversation, "Maybe coronavirus’s aggressiveness could be changed by adding or subtracting sugar molecules from its spike protein," 7 May 2020 Running parallel to the drama within the Republican party is a subplot about the culture of harassment and abuse propped up by congressmen on both sides. Anne Cohen,, "Mrs America Episode 6 Recap: Meet Jill Ruckelshaus, Republican Feminist Hero," 6 May 2020 Most volunteers spend their two-year post completely immersed in the culture of their country and build their lives into the communities. Savannah Eadens, The Courier-Journal, "'It was jarring.' Kentucky-native Peace Corps volunteers reflect on COVID-19 evacuations," 29 Apr. 2020 These objects were not new forms of prison art, but as the size of the prison population boomed, the visual culture of mass incarceration grew along with it. Nicole R. Fleetwood, The New York Review of Books, "Creation in Confinement: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration," 28 Apr. 2020 America's culture of consumerism took an unexpected detour along with the coronavirus pandemic. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, "COVID-19 is changing how Americans spend — here's what we're buying," 28 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb According to a press release, creatures that live in extreme conditions, like tardigrades, are difficult to culture in the lab. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "California’s Saltiest Lake Is Home to This Arsenic-Resistant, Three-Sexed Worm," 1 Oct. 2019 Afterward, researchers swabbed the bakers’ washed hands and cultured the microbes. New York Times, "At the Sourdough Library, With Some Very Old Mothers," 11 Apr. 2020 Check out Google's handy arts and culture home page for an easy guide. Glamour, "Coronavirus: All the Ways to Get Your Culture Fix While Stuck at Home," 19 Mar. 2020 To give athletes a competitive edge, researchers are tweaking brain circuits, culturing performance-boosting bacteria and experimenting with ways to enhance natural strength, speed and endurance by altering genes. Robert Lee Hotz, WSJ, "How to Build a Better Athlete," 11 Mar. 2020 Busch says that to his knowledge, nobody has cultured any live coronavirus from blood samples, meaning the viral particles circulating in the blood may not be infectious. Douglas Main, National Geographic, "Blood and organ donations shrink amid coronavirus fears," 20 Mar. 2020 By repeatedly culturing live viruses or bacteria in animal cells, scientists can essentially create a bunch of mutants. Megan Molteni, Wired, "Everything You Need to Know About Coronavirus Vaccines," 4 Mar. 2020 Local researchers had earlier successfully cultured the novel virus within a week of Singapore confirming its first case. Philip J. Heijmans, Fortune, "Singapore’s coronavirus response has contained the outbreak—but its strategy is hard to replicate," 28 Feb. 2020 There is plenty to do and see and culture to be absorbed by Archie and the rest of her family. Hannah Chubb,, "Canada-Bound? Where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle May End Up if They Move to North America," 8 Jan. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about culture

Time Traveler for culture

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for culture

Last Updated

18 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Culture.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for culture


How to pronounce culture (audio)

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 cultural (audio) \ adjective
culturally \ -​rə-​lē How to pronounce culturally (audio) \ adverb
cultured; culturing\ ˈkəlch-​(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce culturing (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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on culture

What made you want to look up culture? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Obscure Shapes

  • a pile of three dimensional shapes in green
  • Something that is ooid is shaped like:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!