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

Other Words from cultivate

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

Synonyms & Antonyms for cultivate



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Her top three life tips are to do good, to surround yourself with smarter people, and to cultivate a few best friends. Diane Bellcolumnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 30 Apr. 2022 This is not to say that Burton intends to be a low-profile presence in a city where museum executives — like Biesenbach or Michael Govan at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art — cultivate their own kind of celebrity. New York Times, 11 Apr. 2022 Choose from these top-quality items to enrich your skincare regimen and cultivate a healthy, irresistible complexion. Grooming Playbook, The Salt Lake Tribune, 10 Apr. 2022 There’s even the potential to plant fruit trees or cultivate an onboard vineyard. Rachel Ingram, Robb Report, 26 Mar. 2022 One way to illuminate your space and cultivate a fun ambiance is with solar lights that draw energy from the sun and store it via a rechargeable battery until dark. Sanah Faroke, Better Homes & Gardens, 25 Mar. 2022 One of the best ways for leaders to cultivate integrative thinking skills is to discuss difficult issues among their organizational leads and encourage them to express diverse perspectives to reframe a problem. Irma Becerra, Forbes, 10 Nov. 2021 Youth 2 Power also aims to cultivate skills like mediation, facilitation and conflict resolution. Kalley Huang, Dallas News, 18 June 2021 There is no one or right way to meditate, but the general idea is to use external silence and stillness to cultivate internal silence and stillness, even if just for a few minutes. Annie Lowrey, The Atlantic, 4 June 2021 See More

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.

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

Learn More About cultivate

Time Traveler for cultivate

Time Traveler

The first known use of cultivate was in 1588

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near cultivate




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for cultivate

Last Updated

13 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Cultivate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for cultivate


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

More from Merriam-Webster on cultivate

Nglish: Translation of cultivate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cultivate for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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