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[en-vahy-ruh n-muh nt, -vahy-ern-] /ɛnˈvaɪ rən mənt, -ˈvaɪ ərn-/
the aggregate of surrounding things, conditions, or influences; surroundings; milieu.
Ecology. the air, water, minerals, organisms, and all other external factors surrounding and affecting a given organism at any time.
the social and cultural forces that shape the life of a person or a population.
Computers. the hardware or software configuration, or the mode of operation, of a computer system:
In a time-sharing environment, transactions are processed as they occur.
an indoor or outdoor setting that is characterized by the presence of environmental art that is itself designed to be site-specific.
Origin of environment
1595-1605; environ + -ment
Related forms
environmental, adjective
environmentally, adverb
interenvironmental, adjective
nonenvironmental, adjective
nonenvironmentally, adverb
preenvironmental, adjective
proenvironmental, adjective
Can be confused
biosphere, ecology, ecosystem, environment, habitat.
1. locale, environs. Environment, milieu, ambiance, setting, surroundings all refer to what makes up the atmosphere or background against which someone or something is seen. Environment may refer either to actual physical surroundings or to social or cultural background factors: an environment of crime and grinding poverty. Milieu, encountered most often in literary writing, refers to intangible aspects of the environment: an exhilarating milieu of artistic ferment and innovation. Ambiance applies to the atmosphere of the surroundings, their mood or tone: an ambiance of ease and elegance. Setting suggests a background that sets something off: a perfect setting for the emerald. Surroundings alludes specifically to the physical aspects of the environment: awoke in strange surroundings; blend in with her surroundings. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for environments
  • The fruitfulness of nature varies, of course, in different environments.
  • They're looking for folks to plant in urban, suburban, and rural environments.
  • You'll work in small teams with leading-edge technology in full life-cycle environments.
  • They arrange their environments primarily to service their work.
  • One solution is to change environments so that physical activity is not an option but a necessity for completing one's day.
  • His derelict environments are a visual corollary to his characters' disturbing dialogue.
  • Yes, there are frustrations to be found operating in different cultural environments.
  • Some animals survive not only in environments below freezing, but in bodies below freezing.
  • Children are being smothered by virtual entertainment and controlled environments.
  • What has been preserved is only a small fraction of all the organisms and environments that have ever existed.
British Dictionary definitions for environments


external conditions or surroundings, esp those in which people live or work
(ecology) the external surroundings in which a plant or animal lives, which tend to influence its development and behaviour
the state of being environed; encirclement
(computing) an operating system, program, or integrated suite of programs that provides all the facilities necessary for a particular application: a word-processing environment
Derived Forms
environmental, adjective
environmentally, adverb
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 environments



c.1600, "state of being environed" (see environ + -ment); sense of "nature, conditions in which a person or thing lives" first recorded 1827 (used by Carlyle to render German Umgebung); specialized ecology sense first recorded 1956.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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environments in Medicine

environment en·vi·ron·ment (ěn-vī'rən-mənt, -vī'ərn-)
The totality of circumstances surrounding an organism or group of organisms, especially the combination of external physical conditions that affect and influence the growth, development, and survival of organisms.

en·vi'ron·men'tal (-měn'tl) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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environments in Science
All of the biotic and abiotic factors that act on an organism, population, or ecological community and influence its survival and development. Biotic factors include the organisms themselves, their food, and their interactions. Abiotic factors include such items as sunlight, soil, air, water, climate, and pollution. Organisms respond to changes in their environment by evolutionary adaptations in form and behavior.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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