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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun And at least one Indigenous fire scientist links Indigenous culture to Western science in his work., "'Our right to fire': Tribes battle agencies, old policies to restore fire practices," 25 Nov. 2020 One, the Heat can rely on its continuity and culture to remain an Eastern Conference threat. Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY, "NBA free agency: Winners and losers include the Lakers, Suns, Rockets and Bucks," 25 Nov. 2020 But the passageways were built wide, to accommodate a scooter culture that continued to thrive. Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle, "‘Toy Story’ at the start," 25 Nov. 2020 His work also draws on popular culture with images of Halloween masks, board games, LPs, bubble gum, beauty queens, TV dinners, matchbooks, neon signs and, of course, Marilyn Monroe. Susan Dunne,, "Open Studio Hartford won’t be in person, but you can visit local artists and buy their work online through January," 25 Nov. 2020 In addition to wildlife, the sanctuary helps preserve the culture and history of Samoans, a legacy dating as far back as 3,600 years ago when the Polynesian Lapita people first reached Samoa. Tara Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "America’s Marine Sanctuaries," 25 Nov. 2020 Cancel culture believes that speaking an inconvenient truth is intolerable. Hollie Mckay, Fox News, "Former Air Force chaplain claims he was discriminated against for preaching sermon against sexual immorality," 24 Nov. 2020 The statue’s iconography reveals the influence of a powerful outside culture. National Geographic, "This 2,400-year-old statue reveals insights into ancient Spain," 24 Nov. 2020 Another way to learn about the culture is by paying close attention to the little details. Deborah Acosta, WSJ, "What Questions to Ask in a Job Interview," 24 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But Choctaw language and culture thrives despite colonization, on a small reservation outside Memphis. Sarah Macaraeg, USA TODAY, "On 88 acres of self-governed land in Tennessee, a dream deferred for Choctaw people comes true," 26 Nov. 2020 Some of the city’s greatest contributors to culture lived through wars and uprisings. Amy Verner, Vogue, "Paris Lockdown 2.0—One Expat on the Early Days of the Reconfinement," 3 Nov. 2020 People like certain songs because of a multitude of factors, ranging from loving the stories being their favorite artists to identifying with the songs because of a certain connection to culture. Jonathan Vanian, Fortune, "How A.I. powers the music streaming of online radio and tech giants," 1 Oct. 2020 It wasn't necessarily tied to culture or background or any specific ethnicity. Anne Cohen,, "With I Care A Lot, Eiza González Says She’s Done Playing “The Hot Latina”," 15 Sep. 2020 Nash’s predecessor, Kenny Atkinson, parted ways with the team in March after Durant reportedly voiced concerns about the habits and culture the franchise was building. Connor Letourneau,, "Warriors consultant Steve Nash leaves for Nets’ head-coaching job," 3 Sep. 2020 Whether the Hong Kong case was infectious after his second brush with SARS-CoV-2 is not clear; the researchers are trying to culture live virus from the patient, To says. Kai Kupferschmidt, Science | AAAS, "Some people can get the pandemic virus twice, a study suggests. That is no reason to panic," 24 Aug. 2020 In truth, all architecture is vernacular: It is tied to place and to culture, however much glass-and-steel modernism has attempted to deny or ignore this fact. Darran Anderson, The Atlantic, "Why Every City Feels the Same Now," 24 Aug. 2020 The statement called for structural change and racial justice in fields that relate to culture like journalism, film, theater, fashion and more. Rasha Ali, USA TODAY, "Usher, Lupita Nyong'o, Taylor Swift and more celebrities honor Juneteenth, call for action," 19 June 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.

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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

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Time Traveler for culture

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for culture

Last Updated

28 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Culture.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2020.

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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

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