Definition of Environment at

[ en-vahy-ruhn-muhnt, -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.

Words nearby environment













environmental art


environmental audit


environmental design


environmental health officer


environmental health service

Origin of environment

First recorded in

1595–1605; environ



SYNONYMS FOR environment

1 locale




Environment, milieu, ambiance, setting, surroundings

all refer to what makes up the atmosphere or background against which someone or something is seen.


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.

OTHER WORDS FROM environment

en·vi·ron·men·tal, adjectiveen·vi·ron·men·tal·ly, adverbin·ter·en·vi·ron·men·tal, adjectivenon·en·vi·ron·men·tal, adjective

non·en·vi·ron·men·tal·ly, adverbpre·en·vi·ron·men·tal, adjectivepro·en·vi·ron·men·tal, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Examples from the Web for environment

  • Genetics alone does not an eating disorder make, generally speaking, and Bulik points out that environment still plays a role.

  • And in an environment where time is money, hooking up with an escort just might be the sensible thing to do.

  • Are you more pessimistic about the overall public education crisis given this current environment?

  • For whatever reason, I grew up watching and loving horror movies—perhaps as a reaction to the environment I was growing up in.

  • So that time, and growing up in that environment, connected me to those films.

  • An artistic people is recognized by their ignorance of “objects of art,” for in such an environment art is everywhere.

  • There are two constant factors in social life—the spirit of man and its environment.

  • But I must admit that there is at least a (p. 244) possibility that genera are not changed by environment, time or circumstances.

  • Is heredity more influential in the development of man, intellectually and morally, than his environment?

  • When men talk much about heredity and environment they are almost barbarians.

British Dictionary definitions for environment



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 applicationa word-processing environment

Derived forms of environment

environmental, adjectiveenvironmentally, 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

Medical definitions for environment


[ ĕn-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.

Other words from environment

en•vi′ron•men′tal (-mĕn′tl) adj.

The American Heritage® Stedman’s Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Scientific definitions for environment


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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


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