Definition: Milieu is the word for the physical or social environment in which something happens or someone exists. It is often used to refer to the culture surrounding an individual or group, but can also describe material conditions.
Etymology: The word milieu has Old French origins, originally meaning ‘in the midst’. The word is built with the sounds mi (referring to ‘middle’ and drawn from the Latin language medius) and lieu (denoting ‘place’ and drawn from the Latin language locus). The word was brought into the English language in the mid-19th Century, with the first known use being in 1854. The meaning did not change as the word passed through the languages.
In a Sentence
Pablo Picasso spent most of his adult life in his vibrant milieu of French artists.
I decided to learn more about the academic milieu in Massachusetts, before applying to attend Harvard University. The Los Angeles milieu (comprised of journalists, celebrities, and influences) is enticing, but utterly exhausting.