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

Examples of environment in a Sentence

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 From Day 1, this person will be known and trusted and will also know the firm and its IT environment. Jc Gaillard, Forbes, 16 Feb. 2024 Simultaneously, an increasingly risky environment has worked in AuditBoard’s favor. Byallie Garfinkle, Fortune, 16 Feb. 2024 Chabad at Middlebury will continue to foster a warm and welcoming environment where all students can celebrate Jewish life proudly. Benjamin Weinthal, Fox News, 16 Feb. 2024 There was something a little bit more sincere about it to me, something about becoming one with your environment in such a primal, primitive, huge, grand, explosive way. Nick Haramis Ola Rindal Dogukan Nesanir, New York Times, 16 Feb. 2024 To learn more about coyote behavior in urban environments, visit the City of Arlington’s Urban Wildlife Animals website. Harriet Ramos, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 15 Feb. 2024 The data show that states with lower taxes, pro-business policies and reasonable regulatory environments outperform other states in job growth, population growth and income growth. Steve Hershey, Baltimore Sun, 15 Feb. 2024 And for more climate and environment news, follow @Sammy_Roth on X. Sammy Roth, Los Angeles Times, 15 Feb. 2024 Read: Why rich kids are so good at the marshmallow test Other developmental processes that scientists long thought were universal, such as language acquisition, can be affected by one’s environment too. Connie Chang, The Atlantic, 15 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'environment.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 24 Feb. 2024.

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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