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").
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 WebLight and noise pollution will always be something to contend with when enjoying any movie outdoors, so aim for a more secluded, dark environment to get the most out of your projector.—L.a. Hubilla, Peoplemag, 21 Sep. 2023 Perhaps his most famous paintings from the 1960s feature entire environments built around giant signs — Standard gas stations, Norm’s diners, 20th Century Fox movie studios — all done up in flag-waving red, white and blue.—Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times, 20 Sep. 2023 Others, such as designer Jane Wade, are transfixed by the very act of movement, of transporting oneself from their personal safe haven to often banal corporate environments.—José Criales-Unzueta, Vogue, 19 Sep. 2023 Many are still waiting to see what McCord is made of in a truly hostile environment against an opponent capable of matching OSU’s talent.—Nathan Baird, cleveland, 19 Sep. 2023 Environmental justice—the idea that everyone has the right to a clean and healthy environment, no matter their race or class—has been embraced by advocates around the world and is influencing international climate negotiations.—Yessenia Funes, Scientific American, 19 Sep. 2023 The new Progress Action Fund ad is also aimed at voters in Pennsylvania, where a state Supreme Court race this fall is seen as a preview of how voters in the electoral battleground will react to a post-Roe v. Wade environment.—Henry J. Gomez, NBC News, 19 Sep. 2023 The toxin is produced by different forms of the botulinum bacteria and can grow in low oxygen environments like home canned or jarred goods.—Alan Gionet, CBS News, 19 Sep. 2023 The last time American finance was operating in a high-inflation, high-interest rate environment, like the current economy, was nearly 40 years ago.—Nicole Goodkind, CNN, 19 Sep. 2023 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.