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 milieux (audio) , -​ˈyə(r)(z) How to pronounce milieux (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 Into this male milieu in February 1924 walked Maurine Dallas Watkins. Rick Kogan, chicagotribune.com, "‘He Had It Coming’ looks back on the ‘Murderess Row’ that inspired ‘Chicago’," 2 Dec. 2019 Visitors look through a peephole (with a lace collar) to see their hero in her milieu, the U.S. Supreme Court, whose curtains are held back by a lacy gloved hand. Susan Dunne, courant.com, "Wee Faerie Village transforms into superhero central, aka Supertopia!," 2 Oct. 2019 Like Chauncy, Matt was born and raised in Memphis, albeit in a different milieu. Rachel Monroe, The Atlantic, "When GoFundMe Gets Ugly," 9 Oct. 2019 Set in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, New Orleans and finally Baltimore, the 125 pieces evoke changes in social milieu and way of life, from Bohemianism and drug use to motherhood, widowhood and purpose. Washington Post, "In these new audiobooks, great tales are matched with great narrators," 17 Dec. 2019 Somehow the hormonal milieu of us, one portends for more breast cancer, one portends for less. CBS News, "Death rates are falling, but black women are still far more likely to die from breast cancer," 3 Oct. 2019 An era’s tony milieu pauses, flash-lit: an amused Yves Saint-Laurent, Halston in high spirits, a quizzical William F. Buckley. Brian Dillon, The New Yorker, "Tseng Kwong Chi, an “Ambiguous Ambassador” to Life in America," 23 June 2019 Some in the French literary milieu wonder what Despentes might do next. Lauren Elkin, Harper's magazine, "Trash, Rock, Destroy," 25 Nov. 2019 The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection debuts its first ship in June, with the goal of bringing a very high-end hotel milieu to sea. Fran Golden, USA TODAY, "2020 cruise ships: Royal Caribbean, Carnival up the excitement; Virgin, Ritz-Carlton debut," 14 Nov. 2019

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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Time Traveler for milieu

Time Traveler

The first known use of milieu was in 1854

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Last Updated

28 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Milieu.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/milieu. Accessed 28 January 2020.

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More Definitions for milieu

milieu

noun
How to pronounce milieu (audio) How to pronounce milieu (audio)

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 milieux (audio) \

Medical Definition of milieu

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showing steady, earnest care and effort

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