The term “culture” comes from the Latin word “cultura,” which means “cultivation” or “tending.” This is derived from the Latin verb “colere,” meaning “to till” or “to cultivate.”

1. Proto-Indo-European (PIE)

The PIE root “*kĘ·el-” means “to move around” or “to turn,” which evolved into meanings related to cultivation and care.

2. Latin

From the PIE root, the Latin word “colere” developed, meaning “to till” or “to cultivate.” The noun “cultura” was derived from “colere” and referred to “the act of cultivating” or “tending.”

3. Old French (c. 9th to 14th century CE)

The Latin term “cultura” evolved into Old French “culture,” retaining the meaning of “cultivation” or “tilling of land.”

4. Middle English (c. 11th to 15th century CE)

The Old French “culture” was adopted into Middle English as “culture,” meaning “the cultivation of land” and later extending to the cultivation of mind and society.

5. Modern English (from 15th century CE to present)

The term “culture” evolved into its current form and pronunciation, broadening its meaning to include the arts, customs, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social groups.

Phonetic Evolution

Over time, the pronunciation of “culture” has remained relatively stable from Old French to Modern English.

Usage Examples

  • “Culture is often used to describe the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social groups.”
  • “Another example of ‘culture’ in a sentence is ‘The culture of the city is reflected in its art, music, and cuisine.'”

Cultural or Historical Notes

The development of the word “culture” was significantly influenced by the need to describe the way of life of different societies, including their beliefs, customs, arts, and social institutions. Over time, the concept of culture expanded from agriculture to encompass a broader range of human activities and societal characteristics.

The word “culture” reflects the concept of cultivation, not only in the agricultural sense but also in the development and refinement of human intellectual and social activities, emphasizing the importance of shared knowledge, practices, and values in human societies.