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

The milieu comes vividly alive, sketching in the interactions of hunters, traders, itinerants, settlers and the Native Americans that occupy the fringes, their differences marked in April Napier's period costumes. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'First Cow': Film Review | Telluride 2019," 31 Aug. 2019 Thus the grim milieu is graced with something gentler, more playful. John Domini, chicagotribune.com, "‘Harbat’: Speaking to the dead, the living — and now Americans, too," 7 Aug. 2019 While some visit the Vineyard to unwind, many artists view its ambiance as the ideal milieu to reveal a most-authentic version of themselves. Brad Joyal, BostonGlobe.com, "Beach Road Weekend puts the Vineyard on the summer festival map," 1 Aug. 2019 Thus the grim milieu is graced with something gentler, more playful. John Domini, Washington Post, "Decades after the raucous ‘Harbart’ became a cult classic in India, a translation finally arrives," 22 July 2019 During the last 40 years, however, the larger social milieu has also seen dramatic change. Christopher Knight, latimes.com, "MOCA on the rebound? Three strong shows and free entry are welcome signs of change," 12 June 2019 Season 1’s first episode establishes Derry Girls’ 1990s milieu, with its references to Macaulay Culkin and Pulp Fiction. Noel Murray, The Verge, "Why Netflix’s Derry Girls is the perfect show to stream this weekend," 2 Aug. 2019 Bennet has shown to be a good, steady representative of Colorado’s and the nation’s interests presenting a more moderate milieu, yet advancing the country forward, albeit more slowly. Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: Spotlight on the Will-power of Michael Bennet (7/21/19)," 21 July 2019 Called circumstellar disks, these structures are the milieu in which planets form—although the exact process by which worlds emerge from the dust is unknown. Nadia Drake, National Geographic, "Alien moon likely seen forming in first-of-its-kind picture," 12 July 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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Last Updated

7 Oct 2019

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Time Traveler for milieu

The first known use of milieu was in 1854

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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 milieux (audio) \

Medical Definition of milieu

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More from Merriam-Webster on milieu

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with milieu

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for milieu

Spanish Central: Translation of milieu

Nglish: Translation of milieu for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of milieu for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about milieu

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