Definition of culture in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkʌltʃə/


[mass noun]
1The arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively: 20th century popular culture
More example sentences
  • Like others, she is also against the misogyny in so much of our popular and intellectual culture.
  • Sport, and its relationship with the media, have become key markers of late - 20th century popular culture.
  • As so often these days, a study of the past of archaeology throws up revealing insights into modern intellectual culture.
the arts, the humanities;
intellectual achievement(s), intellectual activity;
literature, music, painting, philosophy
1.1A refined understanding or appreciation of culture: men of culture
More example sentences
  • Like Flaubert and Proust, he was the son of a doctor, in that era a profession of wide culture and learning.
2The ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society: Afro-Caribbean culture [count noun]: people from many different cultures
More example sentences
  • Our customs, culture, and societal structure demands the presence of the father.
  • This primarily involves questions about a society's culture, social life, and public sphere.
  • If we don't attend to our moral traditions - to our culture - then our society could come apart at the seams.
2.1 [with modifier] The attitudes and behaviour characteristic of a particular social group: the emerging drug culture
More example sentences
  • Television was the perfect mainline to pump the West's veins full of the consumer culture drug.
  • Based on the movie of the same title, the show is about drug dealers, users, and the position of cash at the center of drug culture lifestyles.
  • Western consumer culture has fostered an attitude of ‘I want it and I want it now’.
3 Biology The cultivation of bacteria, tissue cells, etc. in an artificial medium containing nutrients: the cells proliferate readily in culture
More example sentences
  • Imagine the ability to grow human cells in culture to grow muscle tissue.
  • A feature shared by senescent cells in culture and in vivo is shortening of the telomeres.
  • Circadian rhythms are known to be exhibited by all peripheral tissues and mammalian cells in culture.
3.1 [count noun] A preparation of cells obtained by culture: the bacterium was isolated in two blood cultures
More example sentences
  • The vaccine continued to be used for many years, until replaced by a vaccine prepared in cell cultures.
  • We presume this reduction reflects dead cells in the mutant cultures, as noted above.
  • Slides from the same blood cultures were later prepared for automated analysis.
4The cultivation of plants: this variety of lettuce is popular for its ease of culture
More example sentences
  • It is important to buy from a grower who gives you good culture directions for the plant you buy.
  • During plant culture, young roots were harvested at the end of the light period on 4-week-old plants.
  • A flexible tube connected the bottoms of the two chambers during plant culture, but the tube was blocked during treatments.


[with object] Biology
Maintain (tissue cells, bacteria, etc.) in conditions suitable for growth: several investigators have attempted to culture biliary cells
More example sentences
  • Bovine aortic endothelial cells were cultured in complete growth medium as described previously.
  • The dissociated epithelial cells were cultured in a serum-free hormone supplement medium according to a technique described previously.
  • The bone explants were then cultured in the presence or absence of the agents to be tested for 2 days.


Middle English (denoting a cultivated piece of land): the noun from French culture or directly from Latin cultura 'growing, cultivation'; the verb from obsolete French culturer or medieval Latin culturare, both based on Latin colere 'tend, cultivate' (see cultivate). In late Middle English the sense was 'cultivation of the soil' and from this (early 16th century), arose 'cultivation (of the mind, faculties, or manners'); sense 1 of the noun dates from the early 19th century.

  • This goes back to Latin colerecultivate’, a word that appeared from the same source in the mid 17th century. In early examples, a culture was ‘a cultivated piece of land’. In late Middle English the meaning was ‘cultivation of the soil’ and this developed during the early 16th century into ‘cultivation of the mind or manners’. Reference to the arts and other examples of human achievement dates from the early 19th century.

Words that rhyme with culture


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: cul|ture

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