environment

noun

en·​vi·​ron·​ment in-ˈvī-rə(n)-mənt How to pronounce environment (audio) -ˈvī(-ə)r(n)- How to pronounce environment (audio)
1
: the circumstances, objects, or conditions by which one is surrounded
2
a
: the complex of physical, chemical, and biotic factors (such as climate, soil, and living things) that act upon an organism or an ecological community and ultimately determine its form and survival
b
: the aggregate of social and cultural conditions that influence the life of an individual or community
3
: the position or characteristic position of a linguistic element in a sequence
4
: a computer interface from which various tasks can be performed
a programming environment
environmental adjective
environmentally adverb

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Meanings of Environment

Descending from the Middle French preposition environ “around,” environment , in its most basic meaning, is “that which surrounds.” When preceded by the and unmodified, it usually refers to the natural world (“please don’t litter if you care about the environment”). In a less physical, more extended sense, it may signify the circumstances and conditions that make up everyday life (“He grew up in a loving environment.”) The word may also be applied in highly specialized ways, denoting, for example, “the position of a linguistic element” (“how g gets pronounced in Italian depends upon its phonetic environment”) or “a computer interface from which various tasks can be performed” (“the app works in varied environments").

Choose the Right Synonym for environment

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

Example Sentences

He grew up in a loving environment. We're trying to create a better business environment. These animals were raised in a controlled environment. Many plants are unable to survive in such a harsh environment. Heredity and environment are both important. Pollution is bad for the environment. See More
Recent Examples on the Web But in the extended day program, with 10 or fewer students per teacher, youngsters have a safe environment to develop their speaking skills. BostonGlobe.com, 15 Mar. 2023 But the media still does not provide a safe environment for pilots and others to speak about their experiences with UAPs, Graves said. Jeffrey Clark, Fox News, 14 Mar. 2023 Diversity and creating a welcoming environment for students of all backgrounds were topics that dominated a forum for candidates running for Niles Township High School District 219′s Board of Education. Caroline Kubzansky, Chicago Tribune, 13 Mar. 2023 Colleges should create a safe environment where persons are encouraged to explore new ideas, develop socially and are recognized by their talents above all else. Rebecca Griesbach | , al, 11 Mar. 2023 This is the Hayden of the future, the woman who creates her own environment and makes her own moves. Women's Health, 6 Mar. 2023 In tandem, the importance of all these offices and initiatives is key to ensuring people of color and individuals with disabilities are afforded a safe and equitable learning environment. J. Luke Wood, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2 Mar. 2023 While all hotels in Hawaii must comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements, some go beyond the basics and strive to create a more inclusive environment. Sunny Fitzgerald, Travel + Leisure, 1 Mar. 2023 The show is filmed from the perspective of a single, working-class mom (Daisy May Cooper) who’s constantly struggling to create a stable environment for her kid Iris, played by Fleur Tashjian. Abby Montanez, Robb Report, 1 Mar. 2023 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'environment.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1827, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of environment was in 1827

Dictionary Entries Near environment

Cite this Entry

“Environment.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/environment. Accessed 27 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition

environment

noun
en·​vi·​ron·​ment in-ˈvī-rən-mənt How to pronounce environment (audio) -ˈvī(-ə)rn- How to pronounce environment (audio)
1
: surroundings
living in a rural environment
2
: the surrounding conditions or forces that influence or modify: as
a
: the whole complex of factors (as soil, climate, and living things) that influence the form and the ability to survive of a plant or animal or ecological community
b
: the social and cultural conditions that influence a person or human community
a safe home environment
environmental
-ˌvī-rən-ˈment-ᵊl How to pronounce environment (audio)
-ˌvī(-ə)rn-
adjective
environmentally adverb

Medical Definition

environment

noun
en·​vi·​ron·​ment in-ˈvī-rən-mənt How to pronounce environment (audio) -ˈvī(-ə)rn- How to pronounce environment (audio)
1
: the complex of physical, chemical, and biotic factors (as climate, soil, and living things) that act upon an organism or an ecological community and ultimately determine its form and survival
2
: the aggregate of social and cultural conditions that influence the life of an individual or community
environmentally adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on environment

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