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 Whatever your milieu, the medium is now yours to choose. Liz Maynes-aminzade, The New Yorker, "The New Yorker Crossword Will Now Appear in Every Print Issue of the Magazine," 8 Feb. 2021 As a New York native, Pinky has an otherworldly presence in the impoverished Indian milieu, but as the daughter of a Queens bodega-owner is capable of showing far more solidarity with Balram than his gangster compatriots. Karthik Purushothaman, The New Republic, "The White Tiger Inverts the Indian Rags-to-Riches Story," 2 Feb. 2021 The inaugural milieu already has been diminished significantly because of the coronavirus pandemic: no parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, no inaugural balls, few in attendance. Star Tribune, "Move Biden's swearing-in inside," 16 Jan. 2021 There are endless rabbit holes to fall down, myriad subcultures to peek in on, countless around-the-way superstars who have finally found their dream milieu. New York Times, "Love Music to Surprise You? Jon Caramanica Recommends TikTok Dives," 1 Jan. 2021 The chamber, long associated as part of the GOP political milieu, rankled some of its own insiders during the 2020 cycle by endorsing a slate of two dozen freshman Democrats, some of whom lost in November. al, "US Chamber of Commerce may cut political donations after riot," 13 Jan. 2021 Opportunistic tech creators, never missing a chance to make the same mistake multiple times, have built tools like otherside.is and vicariously.io, which scrape and curate Twitter lists and accounts of those outside users’ traditional milieu. Sydette Harry, Wired, "Listening to Black Women: The Innovation Tech Can't Figure Out," 11 Jan. 2021 Born into a Protestant family from the southern town of Nîmes, Mr. Cadène was raised in a milieu deeply wedded to the law of 1905 that established France’s secular model. New York Times, "An Embattled Public Servant in a Fractured France," 1 Jan. 2021 Adams was her chief of staff for 11 of those 12 years and was viewed by City Hall insiders as a key to her political successes in a milieu in which building coalitions and lining up three votes on the council are essential. oregonlive, "Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler eyes new City Hall staffer — former Mayor Sam Adams," 6 Jan. 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

19 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Milieu.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/milieu. Accessed 26 Feb. 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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