Definition of cultivate in English:



[with object]
  • 1Prepare and use (land) for crops or gardening.

    ‘the peasants who cultivated the land became its owners’
    • ‘Traditionally, producers begin cultivating the land to prepare for planting in the early spring.’
    • ‘Even in an intensely cultivated land it is possible for agriculture and botanical conservation to go hand in hand.’
    • ‘The French countryside is still pastoral and not all of it is as intensively cultivated as ours.’
    • ‘The abundant rainfall last autumn did not allow them to cultivate the land and sow autumn crops, and they had to substitute with sunflower and maize.’
    • ‘We cannot even cultivate the land for lack of the tools and the seeds to do so.’
    • ‘Most the the area is intensively cultivated farm lands with plenty of roads.’
    • ‘The first farmers cultivated the land and lived on what they grew.’
    • ‘The grandparents then withdraw to another house on the family estate and cultivate their own land as long as they can.’
    • ‘First, the German Mennonites settled this region and cultivated the land.’
    • ‘Does it have useful incentive effects, comparable to the effect of granting property rights to land to create the incentive to cultivate the land?’
    • ‘Much of the land was intensely cultivated, a dry quiltwork of barley fields and hayfields and pastures shorn down to the dirt by goats and sheep.’
    • ‘Land is cultivated for a short time and then allowed to recover.’
    • ‘They were shipped out to cultivate land called New Economic Zones.’
    • ‘Over 70 percent of the farmers cultivating mountain land live on the plains.’
    • ‘Large landowners are therefore not compelled to let go of their holdings even when the lands are not actively cultivated.’
    • ‘And those who come are too lazy to cultivate the land.’
    • ‘He cultivated the land, but a big share of the crop went to the money lender.’
    • ‘Are we going to cultivate the land for another man to reap?’
    • ‘Beside them one could almost see the shadows of ancient warriors fighting battles, cultivating the land and shaping the society of yesteryear.’
    • ‘They built the courtyard and buildings and cultivated the surrounding land.’
    till, plough, dig, turn, hoe
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Break up (soil) in preparation for sowing or planting.
      ‘damp, well-cultivated soil’
      • ‘In fact the kindergarten's teachers and pupils' parents joined hands in cultivating the soil in the neighboring mountain fields and raising livestock in the school.’
      • ‘Where no rainfall has occurred and application was made prior to June 5, or rootworm hatch has commenced, cultivate treatment into soil.’
      • ‘No one wants to trample a new plant or compact freshly cultivated soil.’
      • ‘As a result the ground could be cultivated more deeply and broken up by ploughing in a single direction.’
      • ‘The plum curculio overwinters in the soil, therefore remove all fallen fruit, and cultivate the soil to help break the cycle.’
      • ‘Sowing of the seeds is not difficult; cultivate your soil, plant the seeds according to the directions on the packets and water.’
      • ‘Work began in mid-September with the application of a herbicidal spray which killed off all the grass on the outfield before the soil was cultivated to a depth of eight inches and then levelled and re-seeded.’
      • ‘Strong iron axes, with steel cutting edges, made it much easier to fell large trees, whilst iron plough shares were more effective in cultivating the soils resulting from woodland clearance.’
      • ‘A rain on freshly cultivated soil will make it stick together and become tight.’
      • ‘Enhancing seeds with micronutrient metals will act as an incentive to farmers cultivating micronutrient-poor soils to adopt the micronutrient-enriched seeds for use on their farms.’
      • ‘Did the earthworm choose to dig everlastingly, to pass countless tons of earth through its body over the centuries to help cultivate the soil for plant life?’
      • ‘Hoe when weeds are very small, gently cultivating the soil's surface.’
      • ‘First, in late winter and early spring gently cultivate the soil around the base of the tree with a trowel or hoe.’
      • ‘Get rid of weeds and cultivate soil to expose insects and their eggs.’
      • ‘Do not cultivate soil before applying a translocated herbicide.’
      • ‘Slugs and snails are mainly nocturnal, and the sun's heat can be fatal to slugs and to all mollusc eggs, so cultivate the soil thoroughly to bring them to the surface.’
      • ‘Sometimes referred to as a hand fork, the cultivator is used for weeding, and as its name implies, for cultivating the soil.’
      • ‘The soil should be cultivated one or two years before planting.’
      • ‘Each time the soil is ploughed or cultivated and exposed to more oxygen and high temperatures the existing organic material is degraded.’
      • ‘As any gardener will tell you, a primary objective when cultivating the light soil which occurs at this location is to increase its water-retaining properties.’
      work, farm, plough, dig, spade, turn over, turn up, break up, loosen, harrow, prepare, fertilize, plant
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Raise or grow (plants), especially on a large scale for commercial purposes.
      ‘they were encouraged to cultivate basic food crops’
      ‘walnuts were cultivated for salad oil’
      • ‘Cranberries are cultivated in wet peat soils or irrigated sand.’
      • ‘The blue agave is no longer a wild plant, but rather a carefully cultivated cash crop.’
      • ‘Small farmers cultivate the tall trees that look much like the coconut palm.’
      • ‘With a dependable and affordable water supply, not only did the growing population have domestic water, they were also able to cultivate commercial crops and plant trees.’
      • ‘The tree is native to South America but is widely cultivated throughout the tropics.’
      • ‘Plants of the genus Sigesbeckia are annual herbs of warm areas throughout the world, and several species are cultivated as medicinal plants.’
      • ‘Therefore, only those species required in large quantities are cultivated to any significant extent.’
      • ‘The highest nodule number was found in plants singly inoculated with B. japonicum and cultivated under well-watered conditions.’
      • ‘Cloistered monks throughout the medieval period routinely kept gardens, both for growing their own food and spices and for cultivating medicinal herbs to aid in the healing of their ill brethren.’
      • ‘However, in a few cases, seeds of plants cultivated in botanical gardens were also used.’
      • ‘Plants were cultivated in a greenhouse as previously described.’
      • ‘The special conditions under which plants are cultivated in vitro may lead to low survival when transplanted directly to the field.’
      • ‘Forty-eight recognized grape varieties (30 wine varieties among them) are cultivated on a commercial scale in Armenia.’
      • ‘Farmers grow loose flowers in open fields, but cultivate cut flowers under controlled conditions.’
      • ‘South African protea species are cultivated commercially in Australia, France, Spain, and the United States.’
      • ‘Old Bangaloreans were known for their " green fingers " and every home had a lovingly cultivated garden.’
      • ‘Of the several hundred species of allium known, only about ten are widely cultivated.’
      • ‘They observed the consequences of deforestation and, in response, developed the practice of planting and cultivating trees for food and for timber.’
      • ‘Papaya is a widely cultivated fruit crop in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide.’
      • ‘Cannabis and coca are cultivated illicitly on a vast scale for the manufacture of illegal drugs.’
      grow, raise, rear, bring on, tend
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3Biology Grow or maintain (living cells or tissue) in culture.
      ‘blood cells that can be most easily cultivated are macrophages’
      • ‘All cell lines were cultivated under conditions recommended by the supplier.’
      • ‘Vero cells were cultivated in 96-well culture plates.’
      • ‘In burn injuries, for example, derma cells are cultivated from epithelium cells and then grow onto the surface of the wound.’
      • ‘Fully-functional muscle cells only developed after the mesenchymal stem cells were cultivated together with skeletal or heart muscle cells.’
      • ‘Is it more ethical to cultivate stem cells from embryos created during in vitro fertilization?’
  • 2Try to acquire or develop (a quality or skill)

    ‘he cultivated an air of indifference’
    • ‘Most importantly, it means carefully designing a system of selection, training, and promotion that cultivates qualities you desire in your leaders.’
    • ‘He did his job efficiently, while also cultivating friendships with many Indians.’
    • ‘Actively cultivating relationships, she freely roamed the village streets, visiting from house to house.’
    • ‘He carefully cultivated this image of the conservative family man.’
    • ‘These teachers have the unique opportunity to help students cultivate talents and skills that will enrich the rest of their lives.’
    • ‘Few bloggers work the phones, cultivate sources or break news.’
    • ‘"Other painters deliberately cultivate brush strokes to give character to their painting.’
    • ‘You may either work particularly hard at cultivating your auditory skills or risk ‘missing out’ on being able to efficiently process what you learn.’
    • ‘Many, perhaps most, are pragmatic people who deliberately cultivate a down-to-earth, practical image.’
    • ‘For some, 2002 was an unforgiving year when carefully cultivated images were destroyed by a single ill-advised moment.’
    • ‘The challenge is to cultivate their skills while sustaining their interest and preserving the joy.’
    • ‘In Europe, however, skills are cultivated, and creativity is stressed to young players, sort of like the improvisational freedom seen in basketball.’
    • ‘It is imperative for the parents to cultivate good qualities and sublime norms so that the children may also mould in their hues right from their childhood.’
    • ‘Even engineering graduates need to cultivate such skills.’
    • ‘To combat this, I had cultivated a skill to avoid Saturday afternoon duties that was almost unique.’
    • ‘The other lesson he accordingly wishes to bring home to the rulers of his age is that, in addition to having a sound army, a prince who aims to scale the heights of glory must cultivate the right qualities of princely leadership.’
    • ‘You must also cultivate attitude, nutrition and rest to EARN your just rewards.’
    • ‘For a long time during my teen years I actively cultivated my acrimony.’
    • ‘It has given him time to cultivate his skills and experiment in a more relaxed environment than at home, where everyone's expectations are higher than average.’
    • ‘Clearly, we need to invent new mechanisms and cultivate new resources for developing and asserting our individual moral authority.’
    try to acquire, pursue, court
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 Try to win the friendship or favour of (someone)
      ‘it helps if you go out of your way to cultivate the local people’
      • ‘With attendance estimates for 2000 down 500,000 from that first year, officials are now actively cultivating their local audience.’
      • ‘While the US has been preoccupied with combating terrorism and spreading democracy in the Middle East, China has been busy cultivating new friends and allies across the Asia Pacific region.’
      • ‘They never stop learning or cultivating people from whom to learn.’
      • ‘These policemen cultivated the people on their beats.’
      • ‘Every editor needs to cultivate people from the community who represent a wide range of outlooks and experiences.’
      • ‘There is, of course, money to be raised on the Internet but it involves the much slower and methodical work of building sizable e-mail lists and then cultivating these people over time.’
      • ‘I think if you're trying to cultivate people to link to you, perhaps you should give them the benefit of the doubt and not get into an email war with them.’
      • ‘Look for property with old people in them - sooner or later they'll want to sell - cultivate these people now.’
      • ‘They feel no obligation to cultivate people, so convinced are they that their magical endowments should inspire worship.’
      • ‘Agents countered all such efforts aggressively, hiking through the jungles in search of smuggling trails and cultivating local residents as informers.’
      • ‘Eight years later I was earning a small fortune, buying my own flat and cultivating my first boyfriend.’
      • ‘He used his immense charm to cultivate people until he tired of them or they lost their usefulness, but he confided in few and he needed none.’
      • ‘At a distance from his father and mother, he cultivates other people's parents.’
      • ‘A relaxed manner allows you to cultivate people, and people who are comfortable confide things.’
      • ‘Conservatives should cultivate her and respect her.’
      • ‘Maybe consider cultivating people who are childless, or… you might give some thought to conquering this phobia with professional help.’
      seek the friendship of, seek the favour of, try to win over, try to get someone on one's side, try to get on someone's good side, woo, court, pay court to, rub up the right way, run after, make advances to, make up to, keep sweet, ingratiate oneself with, curry favour with
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2 Try to improve or develop (one's mind).
      • ‘I'm worried that seeing a play at the moment will disturb my carefully cultivated balance of mind.’
      improve, better, refine, elevate, polish
      View synonyms


Mid 17th century: from medieval Latin cultivat- ‘prepared for crops’, from the verb cultivare, from cultiva (terra) ‘arable (land)’, from colere ‘cultivate, inhabit’.