milieu

noun
mi·​lieu | \ mēl-ˈyü How to pronounce milieu (audio) , -ˈyər How to pronounce milieu (audio) , -ˈyə, -ˈyœ; ˈmēl-ˌyü \
plural milieus or milieux\ mēl-​ˈyüz How to pronounce milieu (audio) , -​ˈyə(r)(z) How to pronounce milieu (audio) , -​ˈyœ(z) ; ˈmēl-​ˌyü(z) \

Definition of milieu

: the physical or social setting in which something occurs or develops : environment

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Choose the Right Synonym for milieu

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

Milieu Entered English in the 1800s

The etymology of milieu comes down to "mi" and "lieu." English speakers learned the word (and borrowed both its spelling and meaning) from French. The modern French term comes from two much older French forms, mi, meaning "middle," and lieu, meaning "place." Like so many terms in the Romance languages, those Old French forms can ultimately be traced to Latin; "mi" is an offspring of the Latin medius(meaning "middle") and "lieu" is a derivative of "locus" (meaning "place"). English speakers have used "milieu" for the environment or setting of something since at least the mid-1800s, but other "lieu" descendants are much older. We've used both "lieu" itself (meaning "place" or "stead," as in "in lieu of") and "lieutenant" since the 14th century.

Examples of milieu in a Sentence

Theirs was a bohemian milieu in which people often played romantic musical chairs. — Edmund White, New York Review of Books, 12 Feb. 2009 People in France admire the United States, and much of what passes for anti-Americanism is limited to the intellectual milieu of Paris. — Jonathan Alter et al., Newsweek, 29 May 2000 She might stay home, might marry and live as a housewife. And if her milieu does not sanction such a solution, there are, she knows, milieux which do. — David Mamet, Jafsie and John Henry: Essays, 1999 Certainly there are very few American milieus today in which having read the latest work of Joyce Carol Oates or Richard Ford is more valuable, as social currency, than having caught the latest John Travolta movie or knowing how to navigate the Web. — Jonathan Franzen, Harper's, April 1996 They're caught in their own hazy milieu—working, smoking, talking, drinking. — Gerri Hirshey, Rolling Stone, 12 Nov. 1992 young, innovative artists thrive in the freewheeling milieu that a big city offers
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Recent Examples on the Web He could be considered a great travel writer as well as a great novelist, immersing himself in the life of his milieu while bringing a part of his own personality to it. Will Jeakle, Forbes, "In Search Of Ernest Hemingway," 4 Apr. 2021 Like Barragán, Bennett adopted an almost pious visual austerity in which natural light and shadow, not furniture or decoration, define the milieu. New York Times, "In Southampton, a Beach House Not Like the Others," 22 Mar. 2021 The show opened with music better known from television, rather than Williams’ usual movie milieu. Matthew J. Palm, orlandosentinel.com, "John Williams music leaves us wanting more | Review," 14 Mar. 2021 And every season pays close attention to its milieu, from the rural outposts of Scooba, Mississippi, and Independence, Kansas, to Downtown Oakland, which is so gentrified that most players have to commute from outside the city. Scott Tobias, Vulture, "The Last Chance U Creator and Coach on That Pandemic Season and the Emotional Moment You Didn’t See," 17 Mar. 2021 In a 2020 essay for Aperture magazine, curator Lou Stoppard writes about the ways in which Nan Goldin, known for the gritty images of her 1980s New York milieu, was influenced by fashion photographers and influenced them in turn. Los Angeles Times, "Essential Arts: Juergen Teller and the unglamorous history of anti-fashion photography," 6 Mar. 2021 But the effort, deep in commitment, captures the milieu and honors characters typified by their strength and resilience. al, "Alabama snake handlers focus of new Chicago opera," 1 Mar. 2021 While Smith and Flowers emerge from a similar milieu, the two men are not identical. Jacob Silverman, The New Republic, "The NatSec Bros Who Want to Save Congress From QAnon," 5 Mar. 2021 The social milieu was changing, as well, with immigration and industrialization transforming the country. Michael Luo, The New Yorker, "The Wasting of the Evangelical Mind," 4 Mar. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'milieu.' 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 milieu

1854, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for milieu

French, from Old French, midst, from mi middle (from Latin medius) + lieu place, from Latin locus — more at mid, stall

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Last Updated

8 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Milieu.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/milieu. Accessed 20 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for milieu

milieu

noun

English Language Learners Definition of milieu

formal : the physical or social setting in which people live or in which something happens or develops

milieu

noun
mi·​lieu | \ mēl-ˈyə(r) How to pronounce milieu (audio) , -ˈyü; ˈmēl-ˌyü How to pronounce milieu (audio) , mē-lyœ̅ \
plural milieus or milieux\ -​ˈyə(r)(z), -​ˈyüz; -​ˌyü(z), -​lyœ̅(z) How to pronounce milieu (audio) \

Medical Definition of milieu

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