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 cultivate (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 Not all films are made this way, where the director and leading lady actively cultivate a Welcome to the Party atmosphere. Margy Rochlin, Los Angeles Times, "Carey Mulligan, Emerald Fennell bond over ‘tightrope walk’ of ‘Promising Young Woman’," 6 Jan. 2021 The companies will tap into a more diverse community of workers through a special recruiter that will identify job applicants through colleges, nonprofits and other outfits that cultivate Black talent. Star Tribune, "Minnesota can do better on Black economic inclusion," 27 Dec. 2020 That includes the Afghan farmers who cultivate poppy, the main ingredient in opium, the labs that convert it into a drug and the traders who move the final product out of country. Hanif Sufizada, The Conversation, "The Taliban are megarich – here’s where they get the money they use to wage war in Afghanistan," 8 Dec. 2020 In the past decade, says Chaitra Wirta-Leiker, a psychologist who counsels pre-adoptive parents and adoptees in Denver, a keener awareness of the need to cultivate children’s ethnic, cultural, and linguistic bonds has grown. Sara Miller Llana, The Christian Science Monitor, "‘We’re not projects’: Transracial adoptees insist on being seen," 1 Dec. 2020 The expressions of gratitude and of appreciation are lifelong habits to cultivate. Maria Shine Stewart, cleveland, "Thanksgiving reflection on the power of gratitude: Sun Messages," 23 Nov. 2020 His replacement, Esposito, was hand-picked by Solomon to help run Goldman’s trading operations, citing his ability to cultivate client relations. Sridhar Natarajan,, "Lemkau Exits Goldman to Lead Michael Dell’s MSD Partners," 16 Nov. 2020 The idea was inspired by the coronavirus, when lockdown meant workers couldn’t cultivate the 90,000 ornamental plants that usually grace the city’s streets. Emily Matchar, Smithsonian Magazine, "Are ‘Edible Landscapes’ the Future of Public Parks?," 16 Nov. 2020 That mix of the familiar and the unexpected has helped the station cultivate an audience that's willing to explore new artists. Ed Masley, The Arizona Republic, "'Freedom to create something special': Radio station KWSS-FM celebrates 15 years on air," 13 Nov. 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

13 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Cultivate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jan. 2021.

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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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