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 culture (audio) , ˈkəl-​chə-​ \

Definition of culture (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : cultivate
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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Synonyms & Antonyms for culture

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Noun

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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 Do films still have the power to define American popular culture? NBC News, "Oscars 2021: What to watch for at this year's Academy Awards ceremony," 24 Apr. 2021 Advocates say focusing on bringing in new officers would not only provide the chance for individual departments to implement a new culture, but also a clean-slate for training techniques. Zoe Christen Jones, Tyler Kendall, CBS News, "What Derek Chauvin's guilty verdict means for the future of policing," 24 Apr. 2021 Jordan feels like a victim of social media’s read-and-retweet culture. Gary Robbins, San Diego Union-Tribune, "SDSU lecturer’s use of stereotype sparks debate about academic free speech and race," 24 Apr. 2021 The silence, McNulty writes, isn’t just about Rudin, but about a culture in theater that has historically tolerated abuse and humiliation. Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: Essential Arts: The art world was hot hot hot on NFTs. Is it just more of the same?," 24 Apr. 2021 Football culture already exists in Phoenix, but hyperlocal clubs such as Bones FC bring in a grassroots dimension. Priscilla Totiyapungprasert, The Arizona Republic, "Say hello to Bones — Grand Avenue's new 'bodega,' brought to you by a Phoenix soccer club," 24 Apr. 2021 Nike’s leadership went through a shakeup in 2018 after internal complaints surfaced about a boys-club culture at the company. Marc Bain, Quartz, "Simone Biles and Gap’s Athleta brand will both benefit from her split with Nike," 23 Apr. 2021 Spotify has been investing in podcasting for years now, highlighted by the $196 million purchase of The Ringer — a sports and pop culture website founded by Bill Simmons that hosts a network of dozens of podcasts. Jacob Siegal, BGR, "Spotify might crush an exciting new Apple service before it even launches," 23 Apr. 2021 The best way to experience a different culture is, really, to take a bite out of it. Sarah Blaskovich, Dallas News, "Meet Mike Chen, the YouTube food star who just moved to this Dallas suburb," 23 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb March is Women’s History Month, a time set aside to honor the contributions women have made to culture and society. Leada Gore |, al, "Barbie Inspiring Women series at Walmart has Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, Eleanor Roosevelt dolls," 24 Mar. 2021 As Technology Review points out, other researchers are actively studying ways to culture artificial human embryos by prompting human stem cells to divide and grow. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Scientists Grew a Mouse Embryo Outside the Womb. Are Humans Next?," 18 Mar. 2021 This also includes the resumption of the opportunity to travel, which is valuable to culture, trade and enterprise. Alex Ledsom, Forbes, "Iceland Opens Borders To Vaccinated U.S. Travelers–First EU/Schengen Country To Do So," 18 Mar. 2021 Over the years, as Asian-Americans moved into Atlanta’s suburbs and exurbs, new neighborhoods sprang up and culture spread. New York Times, "The Growing Power of Asian-Americans in Georgia Now Comes With Fear," 18 Mar. 2021 Because there's no one story about food, everyone has their own individual experiences that may ladder up to culture for them. Sonia Chopra, Bon Appétit, "Waffles + Mochi Creators on Working With Michelle Obama and Breaking the Rules of Kids’ Shows," 18 Mar. 2021 From sustainability to culture to business, their list highlights the great diversity of Black contributions to the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Morgan Simon, Forbes, "Black Futures Month: 8 Black Entrepreneurs To Watch," 25 Feb. 2021 In 2016 the Marine Biological Laboratory launched a cephalopod breeding program to culture research animals. Rachel Nuwer, Scientific American, "An Octopus Could Be the Next Model Organism," 24 Feb. 2021 Fake Accounts, her first novel, out February 2 from Catapult, has the same confrontational attitude to culture as her reviews. Clare Bucknell, WSJ, "Meet Critic Lauren Oyler: The Literary World’s Provocateur Releases a Debut Novel," 20 Jan. 2021

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

27 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Culture.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for culture



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 culture (audio) \ adjective
culturally \ -​rə-​lē How to pronounce culture (audio) \ adverb


transitive verb
cultured; culturing\ ˈkəlch-​(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce culture (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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