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 Where the Left’s environmentalism seeks to destroy and transform, then, the Right’s environmentalism seeks to cultivate and preserve. Nate Hochman, National Review, "Toward a Conservative Environmentalism," 3 Sep. 2020 The coaches are trained to de-escalate disruptive behavior and cultivate relationships with students — approaches now being pursued in the Minneapolis and St. Paul districts. Anthony Lonetree, Star Tribune, "Hopkins school board agrees to pull officer from high school," 1 Sep. 2020 Jozwik's efforts to cultivate a huitlacoche crop were funded in part by the Frontera Farmer Foundation, a nonprofit led by Rick Bayless, the Chicago chef specializing in traditional Mexican cuisine. Jordan Nutting, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "After 5 years of experimenting, Mushroom Mike develops corn fungus for Mexican delicacies," 31 Aug. 2020 And if that door has indeed closed for good, the ability to cultivate compassionate understanding will be useful in any relationship that follows. Lori Gottlieb, The Atlantic, "Dear Therapist: I Love My Girlfriend, but I Asked Her to Move Out," 17 Aug. 2020 Sharks have more complex social lives than previously known, as shown by a study finding that gray reef sharks in the Pacific Ocean cultivate surprising social networks with one another and develop bonds that can endure for years. NBC News, "'Secret' life of sharks: Study reveals their surprising social networks," 13 Aug. 2020 The researchers are working with members of the Nez Perce, a Native American tribe with a deep cultural history of smoking tobacco, to cultivate some of the seeds from pre-contact plant species used in the study, according to UPI. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, "Early Residents of the Pacific Northwest Smoked Smooth Sumac," 1 July 2020 In Halifax, far from the showbiz machine, Picnicface has been free to both develop a unique voice in front of a warm audience, and to cultivate a show without fear of high-profile failure. Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, "Snapshot of Canada: An Accidental Reading List," 29 May 2020 This popular life-simulation game lets players cultivate their own islands, and Ms. Emmer recently uploaded... Kelly Crow, WSJ, "Nintendo’s ‘Animal Crossing’ Goes Upscale With Museum Masterpieces," 19 Aug. 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

9 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cultivate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Sep. 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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