From Medieval Latin cultivātus, perfect passive participle of cultivō (till, cultivate), from cultīvus (tilled), from Latin cultus, perfect passive participle of colō (till, cultivate), which comes from earlier *quelō, from Proto-Indo-European *kʷel- (to move; to turn (around)). Cognates include Ancient Greek πέλω (pélō) and Sanskrit चरति (cárati). The same Proto-Indo-European root also gave Latin in-quil-īnus (inhabitant) and anculus (servant).


  • IPA(key): /ˈkʌltɪveɪt/
  • Hyphenation: cul‧ti‧vate
  • (file)


cultivate (third-person singular simple present cultivates, present participle cultivating, simple past and past participle cultivated)

  1. To grow plants, notably crops.
    Most farmers in this region cultivate maize.
  2. (figuratively) To nurture; to foster; to tend.
    They tried to cultivate an interest in learning among their students.
    • 1819, John William Polidori, The Vampyre:
      Left also to himself by guardians [] he cultivated more his imagination than his judgment
    • 2021 June 7, Mark Landler, “As a Tense Summer Looms, Northern Ireland Braces”, in The New York Times[1], ISSN 0362-4331:
      [] after four years in which President Donald J. Trump had cultivated Mr. Johnson and expressed sympathy for Britain in its bitter divorce with the European Union.
  3. To turn or stir soil in preparation for planting.

Derived termsEdit


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  1. past participle of cultivar