English edit

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Etymology edit

1530s; borrowed from Middle French societé, from Old French societé, from Latin societās, societātem (fellowship, association, alliance, union, community), from socius (associated, allied; partner, companion, ally), from Proto-Indo-European *sokʷ-yo- (companion), from Proto-Indo-European *sekʷ- (to follow).[1]

Pronunciation edit

  • IPA(key): /səˈsaɪ.ə.ti/
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Noun edit

society (countable and uncountable, plural societies)

  1. (countable) A long-standing group of people sharing cultural aspects such as language, dress, norms of behavior and artistic forms.
    This society has been known for centuries for its colorful clothing and tight-knit family structure.
  2. (countable) A group of people who meet from time to time to engage in a common interest; an association or organization.
    It was then that they decided to found a society of didgeridoo-playing unicyclists.
    • 1892, Walter Besant, chapter III, in The Ivory Gate [], New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, [], →OCLC:
      At half-past nine on this Saturday evening, the parlour of the Salutation Inn, High Holborn, contained most of its customary visitors. [] In former days every tavern of repute kept such a room for its own select circle, a club, or society, of habitués, who met every evening, for a pipe and a cheerful glass.
  3. (countable) The sum total of all voluntary interrelations between individuals.
    The gap between Western and Eastern societies seems to be narrowing.
    • 2013 August 10, Schumpeter, “Cronies and capitols”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8848:
      Policing the relationship between government and business in a free society is difficult. Businesspeople have every right to lobby governments, and civil servants to take jobs in the private sector.
  4. (uncountable) The people of one’s country or community taken as a whole.
    Our global society develops in fits and starts.
    • 2006, Edwin Black, chapter 1, in Internal Combustion:
      If successful, Edison and Ford—in 1914—would move society away from the ever more expensive and then universally known killing hazards of gasoline cars: [].
    • 2012 January, Steven Sloman, “The Battle Between Intuition and Deliberation”, in American Scientist, volume 100, number 1, page 74:
      Libertarian paternalism is the view that, because the way options are presented to citizens affects what they choose, society should present options in a way that “nudges” our intuitive selves to make choices that are more consistent with what our more deliberative selves would have chosen if they were in control.
  5. (uncountable) High society.
    Smith was first introduced into society at the Duchess of Grand Fenwick's annual rose garden party.
    • 1813, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice:
      "What a charming amusement for young people this is, Mr. Darcy! There is nothing like dancing after all. I consider it as one of the first refinements of polished society."
  6. (countable, law) A number of people joined by mutual consent to deliberate, determine and act toward a common goal.

Hyponyms edit

Derived terms edit

Translations edit

References edit

  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2024) “society”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.

Further reading edit

  • "society" in Raymond Williams, Keywords (revised), 1983, Fontana Press, page 291.