environment

noun

en·​vi·​ron·​ment in-ˈvī-rə(n)-mənt How to pronounce environment (audio) -ˈvī(-ə)r(n)- How to pronounce environment (audio)
1
: the circumstances, objects, or conditions by which one is surrounded
2
a
: the complex of physical, chemical, and biotic factors (such as climate, soil, and living things) that act upon an organism or an ecological community and ultimately determine its form and survival
b
: the aggregate of social and cultural conditions that influence the life of an individual or community
3
: the position or characteristic position of a linguistic element in a sequence
4
: a computer interface from which various tasks can be performed
a programming environment
environmental adjective
environmentally adverb

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Meanings of Environment

Descending from the Middle French preposition environ “around,” environment , in its most basic meaning, is “that which surrounds.” When preceded by the and unmodified, it usually refers to the natural world (“please don’t litter if you care about the environment”). In a less physical, more extended sense, it may signify the circumstances and conditions that make up everyday life (“He grew up in a loving environment.”) The word may also be applied in highly specialized ways, denoting, for example, “the position of a linguistic element” (“how g gets pronounced in Italian depends upon its phonetic environment”) or “a computer interface from which various tasks can be performed” (“the app works in varied environments").

Choose the Right Synonym for environment

background, setting, environment, milieu, mise-en-scène mean the place, time, and circumstances in which something occurs.

background often refers to the circumstances or events that precede a phenomenon or development.

the shocking decision was part of the background of the riots

setting suggests looking at real-life situations in literary or dramatic terms.

a militant reformer who was born into an unlikely social setting

environment applies to all the external factors that have a formative influence on one's physical, mental, or moral development.

the kind of environment that produces juvenile delinquents

milieu applies especially to the physical and social surroundings of a person or group of persons.

an intellectual milieu conducive to artistic experimentation

mise-en-scène strongly suggests the use of properties to achieve a particular atmosphere or theatrical effect.

a gothic thriller with a carefully crafted mise-en-scène

Examples of environment in a Sentence

He grew up in a loving environment. We're trying to create a better business environment. These animals were raised in a controlled environment. Many plants are unable to survive in such a harsh environment. Heredity and environment are both important. Pollution is bad for the environment. See More
Recent Examples on the Web And the Clippers have a more inclusive environment where everybody’s just trying to get everybody involved and into the game and to have different things going on. Dan Woike, Los Angeles Times, 28 Feb. 2024 Over three-fourths (76%) rate a nurturing home environment very important, while 34% feel a gap. Pamela N. Danziger, Forbes, 28 Feb. 2024 Following their education, candidates must pass the Uniform CPA Examination, a comprehensive test that covers financial accounting and reporting, auditing, regulation, and business environment concepts. Bryce Welker, Miami Herald, 28 Feb. 2024 Live Indianapolis weather radar Karl Schneider is an IndyStar environment reporter. Karl Schneider, The Indianapolis Star, 28 Feb. 2024 How did spending those years in that accepting environment impact your life after Sumner? Natalie Wallington, Kansas City Star, 27 Feb. 2024 In other words, supporting follicle health can help create the right environment for your best hair growth, says Yates. Macaela MacKenzie, Glamour, 27 Feb. 2024 Navigating workplace bullying is a challenging aspect of leadership, and taking swift and appropriate action is essential to maintain a healthy work environment. Johnny C. Taylor Jr., USA TODAY, 27 Feb. 2024 From Day 1, this person will be known and trusted and will also know the firm and its IT environment. Jc Gaillard, Forbes, 16 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'environment.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1827, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of environment was in 1827

Dictionary Entries Near environment

Cite this Entry

“Environment.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/environment. Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

environment

noun
en·​vi·​ron·​ment in-ˈvī-rən-mənt How to pronounce environment (audio) -ˈvī(-ə)rn- How to pronounce environment (audio)
1
: surroundings
living in a rural environment
2
: the surrounding conditions or forces that influence or modify: as
a
: the whole complex of factors (as soil, climate, and living things) that influence the form and the ability to survive of a plant or animal or ecological community
b
: the social and cultural conditions that influence a person or human community
a safe home environment
environmental
-ˌvī-rən-ˈment-ᵊl How to pronounce environment (audio)
-ˌvī(-ə)rn-
adjective
environmentally adverb

Medical Definition

environment

noun
en·​vi·​ron·​ment in-ˈvī-rən-mənt How to pronounce environment (audio) -ˈvī(-ə)rn- How to pronounce environment (audio)
1
: the complex of physical, chemical, and biotic factors (as climate, soil, and living things) that act upon an organism or an ecological community and ultimately determine its form and survival
2
: the aggregate of social and cultural conditions that influence the life of an individual or community
environmentally adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on environment

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