Definition of culture in English:



  • 1The arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively:

    ‘20th century popular culture’
    • ‘Those topics are the impact of technology and popular mass culture, both elusive subjects with which to deal in general terms.’
    • ‘Their chief concern was mass culture and popular art and their topics included cinema, pop music, cars and science fiction.’
    • ‘The breakthrough of punk internationally put rock music and popular culture back in the hands of fans and amateurs.’
    • ‘The auteur's true genius lies in his ability to combine high art with popular culture.’
    • ‘I have a lot of respect for him, particularly regarding his place in popular culture.’
    • ‘Music was a vital part of human culture long before anyone was able to mass reproduce and sell recordings of it.’
    • ‘The absence of a sustained analysis on the role of literature and popular culture in the shaping of national identity is more serious.’
    • ‘You are most likely to have come across the UK's popular culture through its pop music, television and films.’
    • ‘He remains an aesthete, but his appreciation of culture is now spiritually empty.’
    • ‘Scott has always been preoccupied with diffusing the distinction between high art and popular culture.’
    • ‘It seeks to impose ever-greater restrictions on a broad range of human knowledge and culture.’
    • ‘This juxtaposition is exemplary of the divide and attempted dialogue between contemporary art and popular culture.’
    • ‘Sport, and its relationship with the media, have become key markers of late - 20th century popular culture.’
    • ‘Links are made to the fields of history, literature, music and popular culture.’
    • ‘Cultural boundaries - between east and west, popular culture and high art - are dissolved.’
    • ‘It has often been regarded, like folk music, as a genuine popular culture, in danger of extinction.’
    • ‘As so often these days, a study of the past of archaeology throws up revealing insights into modern intellectual culture.’
    • ‘Music, and popular culture as we knew it, would never be the same again.’
    • ‘Like others, she is also against the misogyny in so much of our popular and intellectual culture.’
    • ‘This is not fringe culture, but rather intelligent, mature art that can appeal to a much larger audience than it currently receives.’
    the arts, the humanities
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    1. 1.1 A refined understanding or appreciation of culture:
      ‘men of culture’
      • ‘Like Flaubert and Proust, he was the son of a doctor, in that era a profession of wide culture and learning.’
      artistic awareness, intellectual awareness, education, cultivation, enlightenment, discernment, discrimination, good taste, taste, refinement, polish
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  • 2The ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society:

    ‘Afro-Caribbean culture’
    [count noun] ‘people from many different cultures’
    • ‘Many will say that we as a society have lost our culture and tradition, and there is no longer a sense of respect or care.’
    • ‘These quotations highlight the role of culture and society in shaping the behavior of both men and women.’
    • ‘It has played a huge role in the development of human culture, and for centuries has contributed in the most fundamental way to philosophy.’
    • ‘If we don't attend to our moral traditions - to our culture - then our society could come apart at the seams.’
    • ‘This primarily involves questions about a society's culture, social life, and public sphere.’
    • ‘As a result, much of traditional Azande culture and custom has ceased to exist.’
    • ‘Even two people in the same culture will make different connections between sets of ideas.’
    • ‘We have all the laws and ordinances but these are pre-empted by culture and social values.’
    • ‘Two fundamental social cleavages of Canadian society are language and culture.’
    • ‘We have expertise in understanding culture, conflict resolution and capacity building.’
    • ‘Our customs, culture, and societal structure demands the presence of the father.’
    • ‘He repeatedly celebrated the revival of the Hebrew culture and the cultural achievements of the Jews.’
    • ‘While the study of Aboriginal art and culture is now regarded as important, this was not always the case.’
    • ‘One is to recommend that immigrants conform to the customs, habits and culture of their host country.’
    • ‘They have been studied extensively and figure prominently in human culture and mythology.’
    • ‘For him the work involves appreciating another culture and understanding how it thinks.’
    • ‘After all, what good is all the technical knowledge without an appreciation and understanding of our culture?’
    • ‘It suggests the mythical dimension inherent in all genuine expressions of human culture and literature.’
    • ‘Their customs and culture are part of the rich heritage of our country.’
    • ‘He embraced new ideas and technology, yet cherished his people's culture and customs.’
    civilization, society, way of life, lifestyle
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    1. 2.1[with modifier] The attitudes and behaviour characteristic of a particular social group:
      ‘the emerging drug culture’
      • ‘The emergence of Britain's drug and gun culture had impacted on his force to such an extent that ‘something had to give’.’
      • ‘The flip side is the work culture and manager's attitude to the uncovering of errors.’
      • ‘They also felt there was a need to instill in new labour market entrants a greater appreciation of the work culture.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He then accused the powers that be of failing to appreciate younger people's culture.’
      • ‘Kids appreciate hip hop culture over there and it's a fun place to be.’
      • ‘Western consumer culture has fostered an attitude of ‘I want it and I want it now’.’
      • ‘You should be somewhat familiar with the company's philosophies and corporate culture.’
      • ‘The bootleg culture has tuned the collective ear to genre-fusing experiments.’
      • ‘I don't think that people in general are so dumb as to buy into consumer culture without having any idea of what is going on.’
      • ‘Journalism's culture of professionalization has stayed the news industry's own hand.’
      • ‘Moyles is renowned for his near the knuckle humour, laddish chat and his appreciation of pub culture.’
      • ‘The defining characteristic of network culture is speed; only the quick survive.’
      • ‘What is the special relationship between youth culture and popular music?’
      • ‘This mandates a proper understanding of the work culture and wise utilization of available resources.’
      • ‘The professional culture of journalism further impedes the public's interest in elections.’
      • ‘They skilfully adapted traditional beliefs and customs to European material culture and economic realities.’
      • ‘In many inner-city neighbourhoods, children emulate gangster culture and profess scorn for those who succeed in school.’
      • ‘People involved in a drug culture tend to gravitate toward others who are doing the same thing.’
  • 3Biology
    The cultivation of bacteria, tissue cells, etc. in an artificial medium containing nutrients:

    ‘the cells proliferate readily in culture’
    • ‘A feature shared by senescent cells in culture and in vivo is shortening of the telomeres.’
    • ‘Imagine the ability to grow human cells in culture to grow muscle tissue.’
    • ‘Chromosome analysis requires growing cells in culture and harvesting dividing cells.’
    • ‘Circadian rhythms are known to be exhibited by all peripheral tissues and mammalian cells in culture.’
    • ‘The ratio of percent binucleate to mononucleate cells was used as a parameter of cell proliferation in culture.’
    1. 3.1[count noun] A preparation of cells obtained by culture:
      ‘the bacterium was isolated in two blood cultures’
      • ‘Slides from the same blood cultures were later prepared for automated analysis.’
      • ‘The vaccine continued to be used for many years, until replaced by a vaccine prepared in cell cultures.’
      • ‘Samples from three independently grown cell cultures were analyzed in parallel.’
      • ‘Lab mice and chick embryos infected with the virus died quickly, and it also grew rapidly in cultures of human lung cells.’
      • ‘We presume this reduction reflects dead cells in the mutant cultures, as noted above.’
  • 4The cultivation of plants:

    ‘this variety of lettuce is popular for its ease of culture’
    • ‘A flexible tube connected the bottoms of the two chambers during plant culture, but the tube was blocked during treatments.’
    • ‘It is important to buy from a grower who gives you good culture directions for the plant you buy.’
    • ‘However, this approach has so far failed because of failure to regenerate plants from culture.’
    • ‘Plants were cultivated under the same conditions as in hydroponic culture.’
    • ‘During plant culture, young roots were harvested at the end of the light period on 4-week-old plants.’
    cultivation, growing, farming
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  • Maintain (tissue cells, bacteria, etc.) in conditions suitable for growth:

    ‘several investigators have attempted to culture biliary cells’
    • ‘Microspores cultured in vitro in a rich medium develop into mature pollen grains, which are fertile upon pollination in vivo.’
    • ‘The bone explants were then cultured in the presence or absence of the agents to be tested for 2 days.’
    • ‘The tumor cell line was directly cultured on the coverslips.’
    • ‘The dissociated epithelial cells were cultured in a serum-free hormone supplement medium according to a technique described previously.’
    • ‘Bovine aortic endothelial cells were cultured in complete growth medium as described previously.’


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’); culture dates from the early 19th century.