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[kuhl-tuh-veyt] /ˈkʌl təˌveɪt/
verb (used with object), cultivated, cultivating.
to prepare and work on (land) in order to raise crops; till.
to use a cultivator on.
to promote or improve the growth of (a plant, crop, etc.) by labor and attention.
to produce by culture:
to cultivate a strain of bacteria.
to develop or improve by education or training; train; refine:
to cultivate a singing voice.
to promote the growth or development of (an art, science, etc.); foster.
to devote oneself to (an art, science, etc.).
to seek to promote or foster (friendship, love, etc.).
to seek the acquaintance or friendship of (a person).
Origin of cultivate
1610-20; < Medieval Latin cultīvātus (past participle of cultīvāre to till), equivalent to cultīv(us) (Latin cult(us), past participle of colere to care for, till (cf. cult) + -īvus -ive) + -ātus -ate1
Related forms
overcultivate, verb (used with object), overcultivated, overcultivating.
precultivate, verb (used with object), precultivated, precultivating.
recultivate, verb (used with object), recultivated, recultivating. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for cultivate
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He saw them cultivate the soil and tend their herds of cattle and horses and hogs.

    Four American Indians Edson L. Whitney
  • They were not devices to cultivate or gratify licentiousness.

    Folkways William Graham Sumner
  • I will cultivate the orchard for forty years in this county if they live so long.

    The Apple Various
  • Did you hear her ask if they were going to cultivate cucumbers in the open?

  • Or would he try to cultivate both without sufficient hands to do either well?

British Dictionary definitions for cultivate


verb (transitive)
to till and prepare (land or soil) for the growth of crops
to plant, tend, harvest, or improve (plants) by labour and skill
to break up (land or soil) with a cultivator or hoe
to improve or foster (the mind, body, etc) as by study, education, or labour
to give special attention to: to cultivate a friendship, to cultivate a hobby
to give or bring culture to (a person, society, etc); civilize
Word Origin
C17: from Medieval Latin cultivāre to till, from Old French cultiver, from Medieval Latin cultīvus cultivable, from Latin cultus cultivated, from colere to till, toil over
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cultivate

early 17c., from Medieval Latin cultivatus, past participle of cultivare, from Late Latin cultivus "tilled," from Latin cultus (see cult). Figurative sense of "improve by training or education" is from 1680s. Related: Cultivable; cultivated; cultivating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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