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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).
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. 2014.
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Examples for cultivating
  • Second, the ideal environment for cultivating the unknown is to nurture the supreme agility and nimbleness of networks.
  • She had spent two years cultivating a potential donor to make a multimillion-dollar gift to her college.
  • Anyone who has ever nibbled on a raw acorn might doubt that the things are edible, let alone worth cultivating.
  • Businessmen often neglect their firms because they spend so much time cultivating political connections.
  • They inhabit their sorrow with a lover's ardor, cultivating it into an art form.
  • Wildlife agencies are re-examining some longstanding approaches to cultivating waterfowl populations.
British Dictionary definitions for cultivating


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
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Word Origin and History for cultivating



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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