Definition of cultivate in US English:



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

    • ‘They built the courtyard and buildings and cultivated the surrounding 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.’
    • ‘Are we going to cultivate the land for another man to reap?’
    • ‘Even in an intensely cultivated land it is possible for agriculture and botanical conservation to go hand in hand.’
    • ‘The first farmers cultivated the land and lived on what they grew.’
    • ‘Beside them one could almost see the shadows of ancient warriors fighting battles, cultivating the land and shaping the society of yesteryear.’
    • ‘First, the German Mennonites settled this region and cultivated the land.’
    • ‘Traditionally, producers begin cultivating the land to prepare for planting in the early spring.’
    • ‘And those who come are too lazy to cultivate the land.’
    • ‘The French countryside is still pastoral and not all of it is as intensively cultivated as ours.’
    • ‘Over 70 percent of the farmers cultivating mountain land live on the plains.’
    • ‘Land is cultivated for a short time and then allowed to recover.’
    • ‘They were shipped out to cultivate land called New Economic Zones.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He cultivated the land, but a big share of the crop went to the money lender.’
    • ‘We cannot even cultivate the land for lack of the tools and the seeds to do so.’
    • ‘Large landowners are therefore not compelled to let go of their holdings even when the lands are not actively cultivated.’
    • ‘Does it have useful incentive effects, comparable to the effect of granting property rights to land to create the incentive to cultivate the land?’
    • ‘The grandparents then withdraw to another house on the family estate and cultivate their own land as long as they can.’
    • ‘Most the the area is intensively cultivated farm lands with plenty of roads.’
    till, plough, dig, turn, hoe
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    1. 1.1 Break up (soil) in preparation for sowing or planting.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A rain on freshly cultivated soil will make it stick together and become tight.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘As a result the ground could be cultivated more deeply and broken up by ploughing in a single direction.’
      • ‘Do not cultivate soil before applying a translocated herbicide.’
      • ‘Where no rainfall has occurred and application was made prior to June 5, or rootworm hatch has commenced, cultivate treatment into soil.’
      • ‘Get rid of weeds and cultivate soil to expose insects and their eggs.’
      • ‘No one wants to trample a new plant or compact freshly cultivated 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.’
      • ‘Sometimes referred to as a hand fork, the cultivator is used for weeding, and as its name implies, for cultivating the soil.’
      • ‘Sowing of the seeds is not difficult; cultivate your soil, plant the seeds according to the directions on the packets and water.’
      • ‘The plum curculio overwinters in the soil, therefore remove all fallen fruit, and cultivate the soil to help break the cycle.’
      • ‘First, in late winter and early spring gently cultivate the soil around the base of the tree with a trowel or hoe.’
      • ‘Hoe when weeds are very small, gently cultivating the soil's surface.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      work, farm, plough, dig, spade, turn over, turn up, break up, loosen, harrow, prepare, fertilize, plant
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    2. 1.2 Raise or grow (plants), especially on a large scale for commercial purposes.
      • ‘The highest nodule number was found in plants singly inoculated with B. japonicum and cultivated under well-watered conditions.’
      • ‘Old Bangaloreans were known for their " green fingers " and every home had a lovingly cultivated garden.’
      • ‘Cannabis and coca are cultivated illicitly on a vast scale for the manufacture of illegal drugs.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They observed the consequences of deforestation and, in response, developed the practice of planting and cultivating trees for food and for timber.’
      • ‘The blue agave is no longer a wild plant, but rather a carefully cultivated cash crop.’
      • ‘Of the several hundred species of allium known, only about ten are widely cultivated.’
      • ‘Plants of the genus Sigesbeckia are annual herbs of warm areas throughout the world, and several species are cultivated as medicinal plants.’
      • ‘Forty-eight recognized grape varieties (30 wine varieties among them) are cultivated on a commercial scale in Armenia.’
      • ‘Plants were cultivated in a greenhouse as previously described.’
      • ‘The tree is native to South America but is widely cultivated throughout the tropics.’
      • ‘Papaya is a widely cultivated fruit crop in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide.’
      • ‘Small farmers cultivate the tall trees that look much like the coconut palm.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Therefore, only those species required in large quantities are cultivated to any significant extent.’
      • ‘Cranberries are cultivated in wet peat soils or irrigated sand.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘However, in a few cases, seeds of plants cultivated in botanical gardens were also used.’
      • ‘The special conditions under which plants are cultivated in vitro may lead to low survival when transplanted directly to the field.’
      grow, raise, rear, bring on, tend
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    3. 1.3Biology Grow or maintain (living cells or tissue) in culture.
      • ‘All cell lines were cultivated under conditions recommended by the supplier.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Vero cells were cultivated in 96-well culture plates.’
      • ‘Is it more ethical to cultivate stem cells from embryos created during in vitro fertilization?’
  • 2Try to acquire or develop (a quality, sentiment, or skill)

    ‘he cultivated an air of indifference’
    • ‘Actively cultivating relationships, she freely roamed the village streets, visiting from house to house.’
    • ‘"Other painters deliberately cultivate brush strokes to give character to their painting.’
    • ‘In Europe, however, skills are cultivated, and creativity is stressed to young players, sort of like the improvisational freedom seen in basketball.’
    • ‘He did his job efficiently, while also cultivating friendships with many Indians.’
    • ‘You may either work particularly hard at cultivating your auditory skills or risk ‘missing out’ on being able to efficiently process what you learn.’
    • ‘To combat this, I had cultivated a skill to avoid Saturday afternoon duties that was almost unique.’
    • ‘Clearly, we need to invent new mechanisms and cultivate new resources for developing and asserting our individual moral authority.’
    • ‘Few bloggers work the phones, cultivate sources or break news.’
    • ‘Most importantly, it means carefully designing a system of selection, training, and promotion that cultivates qualities you desire in your leaders.’
    • ‘The challenge is to cultivate their skills while sustaining their interest and preserving the joy.’
    • ‘For some, 2002 was an unforgiving year when carefully cultivated images were destroyed by a single ill-advised moment.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He carefully cultivated this image of the conservative family man.’
    • ‘Many, perhaps most, are pragmatic people who deliberately cultivate a down-to-earth, practical image.’
    • ‘You must also cultivate attitude, nutrition and rest to EARN your just rewards.’
    • ‘These teachers have the unique opportunity to help students cultivate talents and skills that will enrich the rest of their lives.’
    • ‘Even engineering graduates need to cultivate such skills.’
    • ‘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.’
    try to acquire, pursue, court
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    1. 2.1 Try to win the friendship or favor of (someone)
      ‘it helps if you go out of your way to cultivate the local people’
      • ‘Conservatives should cultivate her and respect her.’
      • ‘Look for property with old people in them - sooner or later they'll want to sell - cultivate these people now.’
      • ‘A relaxed manner allows you to cultivate people, and people who are comfortable confide things.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Maybe consider cultivating people who are childless, or… you might give some thought to conquering this phobia with professional help.’
      • ‘Eight years later I was earning a small fortune, buying my own flat and cultivating my first boyfriend.’
      • ‘They feel no obligation to cultivate people, so convinced are they that their magical endowments should inspire worship.’
      • ‘Every editor needs to cultivate people from the community who represent a wide range of outlooks and experiences.’
      • ‘With attendance estimates for 2000 down 500,000 from that first year, officials are now actively cultivating their local audience.’
      • ‘These policemen cultivated the people on their beats.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They never stop learning or cultivating people from whom to learn.’
      • ‘Agents countered all such efforts aggressively, hiking through the jungles in search of smuggling trails and cultivating local residents as informers.’
      • ‘At a distance from his father and mother, he cultivates other people's parents.’
      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
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    2. 2.2 Apply oneself to improving or developing (one's mind or manners).
      • ‘I'm worried that seeing a play at the moment will disturb my carefully cultivated balance of mind.’
      improve, better, refine, elevate, polish
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Mid 17th century: from medieval Latin cultivat- ‘prepared for crops’, from the verb cultivare, from cultiva (terra) ‘arable (land)’, from colere ‘cultivate, inhabit’.