View synonyms for cultivate


[ kuhl-tuh-veyt ]

verb (used with object)

, cul·ti·vat·ed, cul·ti·vat·ing.
  1. to prepare and work on (land) in order to raise crops; till.
  2. to use a cultivator on.
  3. to promote or improve the growth of (a plant, crop, etc.) by labor and attention.
  4. to produce by culture:

    to cultivate a strain of bacteria.

  5. to develop or improve by education or training; train; refine:

    to cultivate a singing voice.

  6. to promote the growth or development of (an art, science, etc.); foster.
  7. to devote oneself to (an art, science, etc.).
  8. to seek to promote or foster (friendship, love, etc.).
  9. to seek the acquaintance or friendship of (a person).


/ ˈkʌltɪˌveɪt /


  1. to till and prepare (land or soil) for the growth of crops
  2. to plant, tend, harvest, or improve (plants) by labour and skill
  3. to break up (land or soil) with a cultivator or hoe
  4. to improve or foster (the mind, body, etc) as by study, education, or labour
  5. to give special attention to

    to cultivate a hobby

    to cultivate a friendship

  6. to give or bring culture to (a person, society, etc); civilize

Discover More

Other Words From

  • over·culti·vate verb (used with object) overcultivated overcultivating
  • pre·culti·vate verb (used with object) precultivated precultivating
  • re·culti·vate verb (used with object) recultivated recultivating

Discover More

Word History and Origins

Origin of cultivate1

First recorded in 1610–20; from Medieval Latin cultīvātus, past participle of cultīvāre “to till,” equivalent to cultīv(us) “tilled,” derivative of Latin colere “to inhabit, till” + -īvus -ive + -āre, infinitive suffix; cult

Discover More

Word History and Origins

Origin of cultivate1

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

Discover More

Example Sentences

An extension of the conference business, Murray said that Connect will link conferences to the digital reader revenue business that the company recently began to cultivate last year with the launch of its three-tiered paywall.

From Digiday

Curtis said senior leaders need to cultivate an atmosphere of mutual care in the workplace, rather than treating team members as disposable units of productivity.

From Digiday

I was lucky enough for Kevin Lee, who helped cultivate the search industry in so many ways, to come out to my house and do an interview in a socially-distant manner.

Such a policy required Japan to have a very close relationship with the United States, which Abe pursued and cultivated throughout his time in power.

From Vox

Since Google pulled out of China in 2010 over the government’s censorship of search results, China has cultivated a walled garden of applications primarily for use by its citizens.

The strong ties he would cultivate with America were first instilled by his American mother.

Former President Nicolas Sarkozy used it to cultivate right-wing anti-immigrant voters.

And Facebook, under COO and Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg, has attempted to cultivate a reputation for being friendly to parents.

With Bruce Wayne out of the picture, Dick Grayson is free to cultivate that hitherto underdeveloped aspect of his abilities.

Perhaps the general did not cultivate his fame as “The Marble Man,” but he earned it.

He wishes to cultivate it still, and offers to renew the lease for any number of years, and pay the rent punctually.

The easiest way to cultivate the geographic sense is by practising the art of making sketch maps.

The Chinese cultivate the plant like the Japanese, and give it as much care and attention as they do the tea plant.

The Chinese planter often raises large fields of the plants, and employs many hands to tend and cultivate them.

Nothing is more like the most ardent friendship than those acquaintances which we cultivate for the sake of our love.


Discover More

More About Cultivate

What does cultivate mean?

When used literally, cultivate means to take steps to grow something or improve its growth, especially crops. When used figuratively, it means much the same thing, except that the thing being grown or improved is often an abstract thing, such as a business or a friendship.

The literal sense of cultivate is most often used in the context of agriculture, but it can also refer to things being grown in a laboratory. Its figurative sense can apply to many different things, such as relationships, skills, and even cultures.

Example: Farmers have cultivated a variety of crops in this region.

Where does cultivate come from?

The first records of the word cultivate come from around 1600. It grew out of the Medieval Latin word cultīvātus, which ultimately derives from the Latin verb colere, meaning “to till,” “to toil over,” “to care for,” or “to worship.” Colere is also the basis of the words cult, culture, and agriculture, among many others.

To cultivate isn’t just to grow something. It’s to prepare and work for its growth, and to tend to it as it grows. Cultivating the land for crops often first involves tilling (or plowing) it. (A machine that does this is called a cultivator). It also involves planting seeds and then watering them and making sure they are growing properly. When crops and plants are cultivated, they are taken care of until they are ready to be harvested. When something is cultivated in a lab, it means an organism is grown (or cultured) in a controlled environment.

You can see why this process is used as a metaphor for growing something like a friendship. To cultivate a friendship, you have to first gain someone’s trust, and then continue to build the relationship until it blossoms, so to speak. The word cultivate is often applied to the idea of building such relationships. Journalists cultivate their sources by building trust with them. Businesspeople cultivate their contacts the same way.

Other things can be cultivated, such as skills, interests, or even cultures. In every case, care must be taken so that such things can take root and continue to thrive.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to cultivate?

  • cultivation (noun)
  • cultivator (noun)
  • overcultivate (verb)
  • precultivate (verb)
  • recultivate (verb)

What are some synonyms for cultivate?

What are some words that share a root or word element with cultivate


What are some words that often get used in discussing cultivate?


How is cultivate used in real life?

Cultivate is most commonly used in a literal sense in the context of agriculture to refer to growing crops. But it is also used in many different figurative ways.



Try using cultivate!

Which of the following words is an antonym (opposite) of cultivate?

A. tend
B. generate
C. neglect
D. manage