— environmental , adj. — environmentally , adv.
/en vuy"reuhn meuhnt, -vuy"euhrn-/ , n.
1. the aggregate of surrounding things, conditions, or influences; surroundings; milieu.
2. Ecol. the air, water, minerals, organisms, and all other external factors surrounding and affecting a given organism at any time.
3. the social and cultural forces that shape the life of a person or a population.
4. 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.
5. an indoor or outdoor setting that is characterized by the presence of environmental art that is itself designed to be site-specific.
[ 1595-1605; ENVIRON + -MENT ]
Syn. 1. locale, environs. ENVIRONMENT, MILIEU, AMBIANCE, SETTING, SURROUNDINGS all refer to what makes up the atmosphere or background against which someone or something is seen. ENVIRONMENT 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.