A culture is a specific group of people during a particular time — like the hippie culture of the 1960's. Culture can also imply exposure to the arts. Visit a museum if you are in need of a dose of culture.

A useful thing to remember about culture is that it is closely related to cultivate, whose root meaning is "to till the soil." Even in Latin, the source language, cultura was used metaphorically (Cicero said philosophy was cultura animi, the "cultivation of the soul"), and in English it moved from the agricultural sense to training, development of language and literature, mental development through education, and finally the ideas, customs, and intellectual and artistic conditions of a society or group.

Definitions of culture
  1. noun
    all the knowledge and values shared by a society
    synonyms: acculturation
    see moresee less
    a cultural unit (an idea or value or pattern of behavior) that is passed from one person to another by non-genetic means (as by imitation)
    type of:
    cognitive content, content, mental object
    the sum or range of what has been perceived, discovered, or learned
  2. noun
    a particular society at a particular time and place
    synonyms: civilisation, civilization
    see moresee less
    show 10 types...
    hide 10 types...
    Aegean civilisation, Aegean civilization, Aegean culture
    the prehistoric civilization on the islands in the Aegean sea and the surrounding countries
    Helladic civilisation, Helladic civilization, Helladic culture
    the bronze-age culture of mainland Greece that flourished 2500-1100 BC
    Indus civilization
    the bronze-age culture of the Indus valley that flourished from about 2600-1750 BC
    Minoan civilisation, Minoan civilization, Minoan culture
    the bronze-age culture of Crete that flourished 3000-1100 BC
    Mycenaean civilisation, Mycenaean civilization, Mycenaean culture
    the late bronze-age culture of Mycenae that flourished 1400-1100 BC
    Paleo-American culture, Paleo-Amerind culture, Paleo-Indian culture
    the prehistoric culture of the earliest human inhabitants of North America and South America
    Western civilization, Western culture
    the modern culture of western Europe and North America
    Cyclades, Cycladic civilisation, Cycladic civilization, Cycladic culture
    the Bronze Age civilization on the Cyclades islands in the southern Aegean Sea that flourished 3000-1100 BC
    Clovis culture
    the Paleo-American culture of Central America and North America; distinguished chiefly by sharp fluted projectile points made of obsidian or chalcedony
    Folsom culture
    the Paleo-American culture of Central America and North America; distinguished chiefly by a thin finely made flint projectile point having the shape of a leaf
    type of:
    an extended social group having a distinctive cultural and economic organization
  3. noun
    the attitudes and behavior that are characteristic of a particular social group or organization
    “the reason that the agency is doomed to inaction has something to do with the FBI culture
    see moresee less
    the culture that emerges from the use of computers for communication and entertainment and business
    Kalashnikov culture
    the attitudes and behavior in a social group that resolves political disputes by force of arms
    mosaic culture
    a highly diverse culture
    type of:
    attitude, mental attitude
    a complex mental state involving beliefs and feelings and values and dispositions to act in certain ways
  4. noun
    the tastes in art and manners that are favored by a social group
    see moresee less
    show 5 types...
    hide 5 types...
    a culture with lifestyles and values opposed to those of the established culture
    mass culture
    the culture that is widely disseminated via the mass media
    the literary culture
    pop culture, popular culture
    the art, media, and ideas preferred by ordinary people, rather than the educated elite
    flower power
    a counterculture of young people in the US during the 1960s and 70s
    type of:
    appreciation, discernment, perceptiveness, taste
    delicate discrimination (especially of aesthetic values)
  5. noun
    (biology) the growing of microorganisms in a nutrient medium (such as gelatin or agar)
    “the culture of cells in a Petri dish”
    see moresee less
    a culture containing yeast or bacteria that is used to start the process of fermentation or souring in making butter or cheese or dough
    type of:
    development, growing, growth, maturation, ontogenesis, ontogeny
    (biology) the process of an individual organism growing organically; a purely biological unfolding of events involved in an organism changing gradually from a simple to a more complex level
  6. verb
    grow in a special preparation
    see moresee less
    type of:
    cause to grow or develop
  7. noun
    the raising of plants or animals
    “the culture of oysters”
    see moresee less
    show 4 types...
    hide 4 types...
    cranberry culture
    the cultivation of cranberries
    the cultivation of a single crop (on a farm or area or country)
    the cultivation of soil for raising crops
    viniculture, viticulture
    the cultivation of grapes and grape vines; grape growing
    type of:
    (agriculture) production of food by preparing the land to grow crops (especially on a large scale)
  8. noun
    a highly developed state of perfection; having a flawless or impeccable quality
    synonyms: cultivation, finish, polish, refinement
    see moresee less
    type of:
    flawlessness, ne plus ultra, perfection
    the state of being without a flaw or defect
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week