Definition of society in English:



  • 1[mass noun] The aggregate of people living together in a more or less ordered community.

    ‘drugs, crime, and other dangers to society’
    • ‘As the nation has aged, the elements that bind society together have multiplied and grown strong.’
    • ‘Manners are very much part of an individual's character whereas customs are what society collectively expects its members to do.’
    • ‘In order for society to advance, the theory went, it needed to go back to some golden age in the past.’
    • ‘Aristotle believed that politics, or how people lived together in society, were part of ethics.’
    • ‘Where do we draw the line between individual freedom and good order in society?’
    • ‘An economy isn't just about money but about people and how they relate to each other and the sort of society that they build together.’
    • ‘Highlighting problems in society is necessary in order to encourage change.’
    • ‘Of course there are racial problems, but there are also so many positive signs of our society growing together.’
    • ‘Humans must have laws and must enforce those laws in order to maintain order in society.’
    • ‘Every violation of the law is damaging to the good order and expectations of society.’
    • ‘Without a fully realised concept of personal responsibility, society cannot be ordered in a fair way.’
    • ‘I think that our society is held together by respect for these public voicings of commitment.’
    • ‘There are civil laws, which bring order to society and govern our relationships with each other.’
    • ‘A good policy is one that can cause society to come together and form a common consensus.’
    • ‘We make compromises with individual integrity in order to allow society to function.’
    • ‘Rather we should seek to understand how these groups of peoples together ordered their society.’
    • ‘Cultural values and language are the social glue holding people and society together.’
    • ‘The primary focus of aid must be to rebuild the elements that hold society together and make governments accountable.’
    • ‘Without a measure of mutual respect, or deference, name it how you will, there can be no ordered lawful society.’
    • ‘The onus is on government, institutions and society to work together for a just and equitable social order.’
    the community, the public, the general public, the people, the population
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    1. 1.1The community of people living in a particular country or region and having shared customs, laws, and organizations.
      ‘the ethnic diversity of British society’
      [count noun] ‘modern industrial societies’
      • ‘In traditional Aboriginal society, goods were shared, but in a highly structured and ritualistic way.’
      • ‘What does secularism mean in a modern democratic multicultural society?’
      • ‘This is a valuable addition to the abundant literature about nature and society in the Amazon region.’
      • ‘He was calling on all sections of Irish society to make a special effort to buy Irish this Christmas.’
      • ‘In modern society the ability to communicate, organise and protest is enshrined through laws and constitutions.’
      • ‘Several studies have shown that there is a marked reluctance to use free facilities even among the poorest sections in Indian society.’
      • ‘One third of the wealthiest families in Toronto society are experiencing very healthy growth in their incomes.’
      • ‘Ghana plays an extremely important role in sections of Maltese society.’
      • ‘The news of their relationship had created quite a stir among fashionable Roman society and had led to the end of Nancy's marriage.’
      • ‘The arrival of mass consumerism has clearly contributed to more distinct contours of European society in several ways.’
      • ‘They represented all sections of Peruvian society, and all parts of the media.’
      • ‘Using farm animals for entertainment is unacceptable in a modern, civilised society.’
      • ‘Archer is thankful that his future wife knows and follows the manners and customs of New York society.’
      • ‘There is no way that in our modern, civilised society that we can allow this barbaric, medieval practice to continue.’
      • ‘With the turn of the century Quebec began the transition to an urban, industrial society.’
      • ‘The issue here is related more to the social norms and customs of our society.’
      • ‘This is one of Morrison's constant themes, the importance of class as well as race and gender in American society.’
      • ‘It is described as a romance, set across the social divide in the world of Victorian industrial society.’
      • ‘However, the assumption that civil and political rights should have priority is widely shared in our society.’
      • ‘The affluent in Malay society hold weddings in hotels or large community halls.’
      culture, group, community, civilization, nation, population
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    2. 1.2[with adjective]A specified section of society.
      ‘no one in polite society uttered the word’
      • ‘This idea was unspeakable in polite society, but it probably played a part in Dole's defeat.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, she has no clue about how the upper class society lives.’
      • ‘After all they are reflecting the ambitions of the more powerful sections of local society.’
      • ‘When you live on the fringes of polite society, the rules shift, whereas we are not so bound to language.’
      • ‘There are some things that shouldn't be mentioned in polite society.’
      • ‘The left's problem with the Bund was not one of accepting a religious community in a secular society.’
      • ‘Presley shocked polite society in the early 50s but came to symbolise the rebelliousness of rock and roll.’
      • ‘His whole career has been based on identifying with the marginal and empathizing with those whom polite society would scorn.’
      • ‘Yum - the one I made yesterday was wonderful - is it acceptable in polite society to eat it for breakfast as well?’
      • ‘The average citizen's own prejudices may have run deep, but he didn't dare speak them out in polite society.’
      • ‘In the parlors of polite society, social tolerance sits side by side with multiculturalism.’
      • ‘If there was anything Isabelle loved more than shopping, it was shocking the polite society.’
      • ‘Over the years he built a pagoda to polite English society as it faded in the glare of post-war vulgarity.’
      • ‘You know the sort of thing: they aren't properly educated, they don't really know how to behave in polite society.’
      • ‘Do we have to act in a certain way to be accepted in polite society?’
      • ‘Peasant society was becoming more stratified and cohesive, and lords were making greater demands on their tenants.’
      • ‘The musical life of polite European society was a different world altogether.’
      • ‘All this helped to establish French as the polite language of aristocratic society across most of Europe.’
      • ‘It is clear that this policy prejudices the poorest sections of rural society and will lead to greater inequality.’
      • ‘But many of the leading figures in this aristocratic society were even more wealthy.’
      sphere, world, milieu, arena, domain
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    3. 1.3The aggregate of people who are fashionable, wealthy, and influential, regarded as forming a distinct group in a community.
      [as modifier] ‘a society wedding’
      • ‘At the London, Merrick became a celebrity, an object of curiosity, visited by fashionable society women and royalty.’
      • ‘So now many of the society matrons in Britain were American born.’
      • ‘Shunned by her former society friends, she became a recluse and rarely ever ventured outside.’
      • ‘Gradually courtesans became passé and geisha rose in status to become glittering and fashionable society women.’
      • ‘Fellow high society matron Brooke Astor and actress Isabella Rossellini are also dachshund lovers.’
      • ‘John photographed many society weddings and advertised by putting his work in a glass showcase outside the studio.’
      • ‘Top hats were a dying fashion, continued the columnist, and were generally only seen at society weddings or Ascot.’
      • ‘Small wonder that this is the place in Madrid for afternoon tea and society weddings.’
      polite society, high society, the aristocracy, the gentry, the nobility, the upper classes, the elite, the privileged classes, the county set
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    4. 1.4[count noun]A plant or animal community.
      ‘the analogy between insect society and human city is not new’
      • ‘Many species of dolphin live in complex societies.’
      • ‘Two general explanations may account for the lack of nepotism within insect societies.’
      • ‘Mechanisms of inbreeding avoidance are well documented in vertebrate societies.’
      • ‘Kin recognition serves as the foundation of advanced social systems in a wide variety of other animal societies.’
      • ‘Such top-down control over reproduction is a common feature of cooperative animal societies.’
      • ‘These insects have very strange societies, in which, typically, each colony is ruled by a single queen.’
      • ‘Animal societies are characterized by cooperation as well as conflict.’
      • ‘Biting and other types of body contact occur in advanced insect societies.’
      • ‘Surely insect societies, from their very earliest days, would require the evolution of antibiotics.’
      • ‘Group tasks are found in many animal societies and appear to fall into two broad categories.’
      • ‘In insect societies, and particularly in ants, males are by far the neglected sex.’
  • 2An organization or club formed for a particular purpose or activity.

    [in names] ‘the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds’
    • ‘Young people should get a greater say in how clubs and societies are run, and should have the option of more meaningful activities.’
    • ‘He frequently gives talks to art clubs and societies and will be teaching painting in Tuscany this summer.’
    • ‘Frank Bergin, secretary gave a report on the activities of the society during the past year.’
    • ‘The week involves, among other things, the chance to join all the clubs and societies that the university has on offer.’
    • ‘One of the society's activities has been to erect plaques honouring the great range of achievers with Yorkshire roots.’
    • ‘All societies, clubs, associations and organisations relying on annual subscriptions find renewal times somewhat fraught.’
    • ‘Unlike Hunt and Lockwood, who prefer to make local friends through friends, Wu goes to societies and clubs to meet people.’
    • ‘There are no fine arts societies, no theatre clubs - only festivals.’
    • ‘For example, there are over 40 thriving clubs and societies on the island - hardly leaving time for visitors to take a breath.’
    • ‘Her memorabilia collection, which she regularly presents to clubs and societies, includes towels, rugs and a flag of the star.’
    • ‘Formal tastings are also held by wine clubs and societies for less commercial purposes: education or simple pleasure perhaps.’
    • ‘Participation for the parade is open to the business sector, private individuals, clubs and societies.’
    • ‘Many met together regularly for Bible teaching, prayer and mutual spiritual help in the newly organised religious societies.’
    • ‘While working hard at perfecting his art, in London and Italy, Reynolds was equally assiduous in getting into the right clubs and societies.’
    • ‘Most clubs and societies exist because people are willing to give up their time to serve on organising committees.’
    • ‘The council are also hopeful that with backing from businesses, coaches from clubs and societies will be able to run training sessions within schools.’
    • ‘Wesleyan University's student organizations are a far cry from the glee clubs and debate societies of yore.’
    • ‘Charitable organisations and welfare societies should take the initiative to eradicate begging.’
    • ‘The student society's external relations officer said he is looking forward to working with the group.’
    • ‘Thanks to energetic support from the society, the fund-raising activity was a great success.’
    association, club, group, band, circle, fellowship, body, guild, college, lodge, order, fraternity, confraternity, brotherhood, sisterhood, sorority, league, federation, union, alliance, affiliation, institution, coterie
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  • 3[mass noun] The situation of being in the company of other people.

    ‘she shunned the society of others’
    • ‘Ben is a genetic throwback to Neanderthal man, shunned by family and society for his stupidity and ugliness.’
    • ‘Obese people often are shunned by society and blamed for having weak characters.’
    • ‘He was worried he might accidentally hurt one of his friends, or expose himself to be a freak, to be shunned from society.’
    • ‘Also a divorced woman was shunned by society and treated as an outcast.’
    • ‘The mental health charity Turning Point and homeless charities were astonished by her ease with people shunned by society.’
    • ‘Women who had children born out of wedlock were shunned in Irish society while men were often be given the benefit of the doubt.’
    • ‘He also found time in the society of fellow students to doubt and debate all things, and so became something of a republican and a philosopher as well as a physician.’
    company, companionship, fellowship, friendship, comradeship, camaraderie, social intercourse
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Mid 16th century (in the sense ‘companionship, friendly association with others’): from French société, from Latin societas, from socius companion.