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 Yet the later episode deserves to be much better known, not just because the public health threat was a closer match to our own but because American society at the time was better prepared—culturally, institutionally and politically—to deal with it. Niall Ferguson, WSJ, "How a More Resilient America Beat a Midcentury Pandemic," 30 Apr. 2021 Human society is a biological entity: one that affects the real world and, in turn, is affected by it. Chandran Nair, CNN, "The Covid disaster in India shows that the future is biological, not digital," 30 Apr. 2021 They’ve been affected by the way society treats each other. Victoria Uwumarogie, Essence, "John Legend Got His COVID-19 Vaccine And Wants You To Get Yours, Too," 28 Apr. 2021 In subtle and overt ways, society said to me and so many other dark girls that beauty was our only inherent value as women, but our skin was an obstacle to this beauty that was our currency. Michaela Angela Davis, Allure, "How Colorism Shapes Black Girlhood," 28 Apr. 2021 Japanese society will need to look to areas like robotics to solve this problem, because the problem is inevitable. Steve Vassallo, Forbes, "Missionary Misfits: Solving Inevitable Problems," 28 Apr. 2021 Here, meet the brands promoting mindfulness, encouraging inner peace, and spreading kindness at a time in which society needs it most. Ciarra Lorren Zatorski, Vogue, "Meet The Athleisure Brands With A Message," 27 Apr. 2021 Clarke said society has celebrated doctors and nurses, but people in the funeral industry have also put themselves at personal risk during the pandemic. Vincent T. Davis, San Antonio Express-News, "Documentary premiering on KLRN explores legacy of San Antonio's Black funeral homes," 27 Apr. 2021 The difference now is that society has become so polarized and almost every question has become political, Kettl said. Talia Richman, Dallas News, "Mailers, money and a church’s politics: How some North Texas school board races are ‘drawn into the vortex of the culture wars’," 26 Apr. 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

3 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Society.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 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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