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Definitions of Environment

  1. (noun) The natural world (i.e., animals, plants, and weather).
  2. (noun) Referring to a specific location such as a classroom or workplace.

Environment Pronunciation

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: en·vi·ron·ment

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

Phonetic Spelling

  • American English – /in-vIE-ruhn-muhnt/
  • British English – /in-vIE-ruhn-muhnt/

International Phonetic Alphabet

  • American English – /ɛnˈvaɪrə(n)m(ə)nt/
  • British English – /ɛnˈvʌɪrn̩m(ə)nt/

Usage Note

  • Plural: environments

Related Quotations

  • “[A]spects of social life . . . cannot be explained in terms of the biological or mental characteristics of the individual. People experience social facts as external to themselves in the sense that facts have an independent reality and form a part of people’s objective environment” (Hughes and Kroehler 2008:13).
  • “At the most basic level, material culture is important because it is our buffer against the environment. For example, we create shelter to protect ourselves from the weather and give ourselves privacy” (Kendall 2006:45–46).
  • “Each of us is a social being. We are born into a social environment; we fully develop into human beings in a social environment; and we live our lives in a social environment. What we think, how we feel, and what we say and do all are shaped by our interactions with other people. The scientific study of these social interactions and of social organization is called sociology” (Hughes and Kroehler 2008:3).
  • “Opposite-sex interaction is more sexually charged, often resulting in an element of flirtation that is missing in same-sex interaction. Most of this casually flirtatious behavior is innocent enough and falls outside the realm of sexual harassment. The line is crossed when flirtatious behavior turns to unwelcome sexual advances that interfere with a person’s ability to perform a job and enjoy its benefits. Sexual harassment may include everything from blatant demands for sex, to subtler pressures regarding sexual activity, to panoply of behavior that create a hostile workplace environment” (McNamee and Miller 2013:199).
  • “The kind of person we become depends greatly on what we learn during our formative years from our surrounding social groups and social environment” (Kendall 2006:105).

Additional Information

Related Terms


Hughes, Michael, and Carolyn J. Kroehler. 2008. Sociology: The Core. 8th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill.

Kendall, Diana. 2006. Sociology in Our Times: The Essentials. 5th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

McNamee, Stephen J., and Robert K. Miller, Jr. 2013. The Meritocracy Myth. 3rd ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Works Consulted

Ferris, Kerry, and Jill Stein. 2010. The Real World: An Introduction to Sociology. 2nd ed. New York: Norton.

Giddens, Anthony, and Philip W. Sutton. 2014. Essential Concepts in Sociology. Cambridge: Polity.

Hughes, Michael, and Carolyn J. Kroehler. 2011. Sociology: The Core. 10th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Macionis, John, and Kenneth Plummer. 2012. Sociology: A Global Introduction. 4th ed. Harlow, England: Pearson Education.

Macmillan. (N.d.) Macmillan Dictionary. (https://www.macmillandictionary.com/).

Merriam-Webster. (N.d.) Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/).

Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/).

Ravelli, Bruce, and Michelle Webber. 2016. Exploring Sociology: A Canadian Perspective. 3rd ed. Toronto: Pearson.

Stewart, Paul, and Johan Zaaiman, eds. 2015. Sociology: A Concise South African Introduction. Cape Town: Juta.

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Wikimedia Foundation. (http://en.wiktionary.org).

Cite the Definition of Environment

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “environment.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved June 23, 2024 (https://sociologydictionary.org/environment/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

environment. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/environment/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “environment.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed June 23, 2024. https://sociologydictionary.org/environment/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“environment.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 23 Jun. 2024. <https://sociologydictionary.org/environment/>.