Synonym Chooser

How is the word environment distinct from other similar nouns?

Some common synonyms of environment are background, milieu, mise-en-scène, and setting. While all these words mean "the place, time, and circumstances in which something occurs," 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

When is it sensible to use background instead of environment?

The meanings of background and environment largely overlap; however, 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

When is milieu a more appropriate choice than environment?

In some situations, the words milieu and environment are roughly equivalent. However, milieu applies especially to the physical and social surroundings of a person or group of persons.

an intellectual milieu conducive to artistic experimentation

When might mise-en-scène be a better fit than environment?

While in some cases nearly identical to environment, 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

When could setting be used to replace environment?

While the synonyms setting and environment are close in meaning, setting suggests looking at real-life situations in literary or dramatic terms.

a militant reformer who was born into an unlikely social setting

Thesaurus Entries Near environment

Cite this Entry

“Environment.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jun. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on environment

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