cul·​ti·​vate | \ ˈkəl-tə-ˌvāt How to pronounce cultivate (audio) \
cultivated; cultivating

Definition of cultivate

transitive verb

1 : to prepare or prepare and use for the raising of crops Some fields are cultivated while others lie fallow. also : to loosen or break up the soil about (growing plants)
2a : to foster the growth of cultivate vegetables cultivate coffee
b : culture sense 2a cultivate oysters for pearls
c : to improve by labor, care, or study : refine cultivate the mind cultivated a reputation as a hard-core wheeler-dealer …— Kit Boss
3 : further, encourage cultivate the arts
4 : to seek the society of : make friends with looking for influential people to cultivate as friends

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Other Words from cultivate

cultivatable \ ˈkəl-​tə-​ˌvā-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce cultivatable (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for cultivate



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Examples of cultivate in a Sentence

Prehistoric peoples settled the area and began to cultivate the land. Some of the fields are cultivated while others lie fallow. a plant that is cultivated for its fruit They survived by cultivating vegetables and grain. He has carefully cultivated his image. She cultivated a taste for fine wines.
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Recent Examples on the Web As Michigan struggled to cultivate depth at defensive end, Paye and Hutchinson became important every-down players who were asked to defend the run and get after the quarterback. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football may have the best defensive end duo in nation: 'It's going to be scary'," 8 Oct. 2020 Others, such as the Grow Dat Youth Farm in City Park, aim to cultivate future leaders by teaching gardening as meaningful work. Richard Campanella,, "Now forgotten, New Orleans was once dotted with 'truck farms' as city grew," 1 Oct. 2020 In his MasterClass, France breaks down his definition of style as well as how to cultivate and embrace your very own. Kelly Corbett, House Beautiful, "16 of the Coolest MasterClass Courses You Can Take Right Now," 15 Sep. 2020 Trump's big bet on Minnesota — which includes moving advertising dollars from other battleground states — has become fodder for fundraising pitches by DFL candidates trying to cultivate a sense of urgency. Patrick Condon, Star Tribune, "Biden campaign goes virtual in Minnesota, while Trump campaign continues in person," 15 Aug. 2020 The Natufians are thought to be among the first humans to construct permanent houses and cultivate plants as food, reported Daniel K. Eisenbud for the Jerusalem Post in 2017. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, "15,000 Years Ago, Humans in Israel Ate Snakes and Lizards," 15 June 2020 And breaking into the philanthropy community is difficult because new leaders often lack the bandwidth and experience to cultivate relationships with potential funders. Vangela M. Wade, Fortune, "The funding gap between Black- and white-led organizations is clear—and alarming," 28 Sep. 2020 Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have since suspended the accounts that tried to cultivate followings to point users back to their websites. NBC News, "Facebook and Twitter remove Russia-linked accounts linked to multiple agencies," 24 Sep. 2020 Education is meant to cultivate nimbleness with signifier and signified. Virginia Heffernan, Wired, "The Fantasy of Pokémon Go Is More Important Than Ever," 22 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cultivate.' 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 cultivate

1588, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cultivate

Medieval Latin cultivatus, past participle of cultivare, from cultivus cultivable, from Latin cultus, past participle of colere — see cult

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Time Traveler for cultivate

Time Traveler

The first known use of cultivate was in 1588

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Statistics for cultivate

Last Updated

15 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cultivate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for cultivate


How to pronounce cultivate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of cultivate

: to prepare and use (soil) for growing plants
: to grow and care for (plants)
: to grow or raise (something) under conditions that you can control


cul·​ti·​vate | \ ˈkəl-tə-ˌvāt How to pronounce cultivate (audio) \
cultivated; cultivating

Kids Definition of cultivate

1 : to prepare land for the raising of crops cultivate a field
2 : to raise or assist the growth of crops by tilling or by labor and care cultivate corn
3 : to improve or develop by careful attention, training, or study : devote time and thought to He's trying to cultivate a better attitude.
4 : to seek the company and friendship of As soon as Johnny began to cultivate Dove, he was surprised at the response.— Esther Forbes, Johnny Tremain


transitive verb
cul·​ti·​vate | \ ˈkəl-tə-ˌvāt How to pronounce cultivate (audio) \
cultivated; cultivating

Medical Definition of cultivate

: culture sense 1 viruses cultivated in brain tissue

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