so·​ci·​e·​ty | \ sə-ˈsī-ə-tē How to pronounce society (audio) \
plural societies

Definition of society

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : companionship or association with one's fellows : friendly or intimate intercourse : company
2 : a voluntary association of individuals for common ends especially : an organized group working together or periodically meeting because of common interests, beliefs, or profession
3a : an enduring and cooperating social group whose members have developed organized patterns of relationships through interaction with one another
b : a community, nation, or broad grouping of people having common traditions, institutions, and collective activities and interests
4a : a part of a community that is a unit distinguishable by particular aims or standards of living or conduct : a social circle or a group of social circles having a clearly marked identity literary society
b : a part of the community that sets itself apart as a leisure class and that regards itself as the arbiter of fashion and manners
5a : a natural group of plants usually of a single species or habit within an association
b : the progeny of a pair of insects when constituting a social unit (such as a hive of bees) broadly : an interdependent system of organisms or biological units



Definition of society (Entry 2 of 2)

: of, relating to, or typical of fashionable society

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Examples of society in a Sentence

Noun Poverty hurts society as a whole. We need to do more to help the poorer members of our society. the values of Western society She was introduced to society at a formal reception. The club's members are drawn from the ranks of high society.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But data will be the ultimate driver that shows the invaluable benefits to society. Neil Cawse, Forbes, "Biden’s Futurama: Why EV Adoption In The U.S Will Require More Than A Bold Vision," 13 May 2021 Meeting the world’s growing demand for energy while reducing environmental impacts is one of society’s most significant challenges. Sidney Fussell, Wired, "AI Shows ExxonMobil Downplayed Its Role in Climate Change," 13 May 2021 During the civil war, Colombia's security forces were considered a unifying element for the country, which helped to shield them from greater accountability to civil society. Stefano Pozzebon, CNN, "In Colombia's protests, pandemic pressures collide with an existential reckoning for police," 10 May 2021 Isaac feels that Bull has kowtowed to society and shown the docility that this country has always wanted from us. Deborah Treisman, The New Yorker, "J. M. Holmes on Black Manhood in America," 10 May 2021 And in the industry that has grown around this age-old ritual, as in all sectors of society, pulling up the most marginalized tends to lead to collective liberation. New York Times, "The Brands Reimagining Natural Hair Care," 10 May 2021 However, there are ways to manage it and slowly return to society. Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY, "COVID-19 fear, anxiety continues to hold back fully vaccinated Americans. Where does it come from and how can we overcome it?," 8 May 2021 Cinema is about storytelling, and storytelling is about the reflection of the world and holding a mirror to society. Yesha Callahan, Glamour, "Mortal Kombat’s Lewis Tan Is Proud to Be a Sex Symbol," 3 May 2021 The changes came after a ProPublica series on prostitution arrests in New York City that began with a basic question: What are the costs (or possible benefits) to society of sending police officers out to arrest people for prostitution? Stephen Engelberg, ProPublica, "How NYPD’s Vice Unit Got Prostitution Policing All Wrong," 3 May 2021

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


circa 1513, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1693, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for society


Middle French societé, from Latin societat-, societas, from socius companion — more at social

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Time Traveler for society

Time Traveler

The first known use of society was circa 1513

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Statistics for society

Last Updated

15 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Society.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for society



English Language Learners Definition of society

: people in general thought of as living together in organized communities with shared laws, traditions, and values
: the people of a particular country, area, time, etc., thought of especially as an organized community
: people who are fashionable and wealthy


so·​ci·​ety | \ sə-ˈsī-ə-tē How to pronounce society (audio) \
plural societies

Kids Definition of society

1 : a community or group of people having common traditions, institutions, and interests medieval society western society
2 : all of the people of the world Medical advances help society.
3 : a group of persons with a common interest, belief, or purpose historical societies
4 : friendly association with others He avoided the society of other painters.


so·​ci·​e·​ty | \ sə-ˈsī-ə-tē How to pronounce society (audio) \
plural societies

Legal Definition of society

1 : the benefits of love, care, affection, and companionship that family members receive from each other sought damages for loss of society from his wife's wrongful death — compare consortium
2 : a voluntary association of individuals dedicated to common ends a conservation society
3 : a community, nation, or broad grouping of people having common traditions, institutions, and collective activities and interests

Other Words from society

societal \ -​sī-​ət-​ᵊl How to pronounce society (audio) \ adjective

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