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In this post, we’ll be covering the topic of culture in all of its forms. Below you’ll find a compilation of useful terms to strengthen your English vocabulary, so that next time you’ll be visiting cultural places, you’ll know everything you need to discuss art. This article will therefore address vocabulary words on the following topics:

  • Culture/Music;
  • Art (Writing and Painting);
  • Cinema/Cultural Activities;

Ready to learn the terminology related to the world of culture? Let’s dive right in by defining today’s subject matter. Culture.

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What Is the Meaning and the Definition of Culture?

The English word culture takes its roots in the Latin word cultura, which stands for grow, farm, or honor. Cultura itself derives from the noun colere, which means both grow and celebrate.

In this instance, culture can be defined as the shared values, traditions, norms, customs, arts, and traditions of a group of people across any domain such as art, religion, science, language or food.

In English, the word culture encompasses various—and sometimes opposite—meanings. Today, we won’t be talking about the culture of the land : farming ; but about the culture of the art.

renaissance painting

Culture Vocabulary: General Terms Around the Notion of Culture

Let’s start by learning about common terms used to discuss Culture, with a capital C.

Beliefsideas shared among a group of people
Cultural Institutionestablished organization working for the preservation of culture
Designto draw plans showing the look and function of any object before it is made
Dialectform of a language specific to a region or social group
Diffusionspreading of a concept or idea widely
Ethicset of moral principles shared by a group or a field
Heritagelegacy of cultural resources in a group or society
Knowledgefacts and skills acquired through education or experience
Morescustoms and norms of a society or a community
Researchthorough study of a field to reach new conclusions
Resourcesdocumentation of past work that can be used to conduct new studies
Studydetailed investigation of a subject or a field
Valuesmoral principles and beliefs that serve to assess the importance of things

Music Vocabulary: General Terms Around the Notion of Music

Now that we’ve seen terms around the notion of culture, it’s time to channel your inner musician and learn practical words to talk about the music craft.

The components of Music

Music is an intricate art revolving around many different sonorities put together. Here are some of its main components:

Acousticraw performance of a song without electric amplifier
Beatbasic unit of time, tempo, and rhythm used in music theory
Chorusrepetitive part of a song
Chordstwo or more notes played together
Collaborate (collab)to work with another artist to produce a song
Lyricswritten words composing a song
Melodynotes forming a song
Rhythmpattern of beats and sounds present in a song

Music Genres and Important Terms

Like any art form, music has tons of different genres :

Bluessecular folk music born in the early 20th century created by African Americans
Classical musictraditional music following established principles
Pop musicpopular music genre with easy to remember beats and lyrics
Rapspeaking in rhymes over hip-hop instrumental
Recorddisc where the music is recorded, imprinted, and sold / synonym of song and track
Reggae musicmusic genre born in Jamaica in the 1960s recognizable for its engaged lyrics, drum and bass downbeat, and its offbeat rhythm
Rock musicrhythmic music with a heavy presence of guitar, drums, and bass
Samplereuse of a portion of a song in another song
Setseries of songs performed one after the other
Singerperson who speaks melodically over a song
Singlesong released digitally or physically on its own
Tracksynonym of song and record

Art Vocabulary: General Terms Around the Notion of Art

In this section, we’ll be highlighting the most important terms related to the art of writing and painting.

Written Art

You’ll find below some key terms about the writing craft and the different genres of books.

Biographybook around someone’s life
Dramatype of story which involves conflict and tragedy among characters
Essayconcise piece of writing on a particular subject
Memoirnonfiction narrative writings based on personal memories
Literaturewritten works widely praised
Novelfiction prose narrative dealing with human experience
Poetryliterary work which revolves around the expression of feelings through the use of style and rhythms
Quillwriting tool made from a feather, which was dipped into ink to write on paper
Romancewritten work that places its primary focus on the romantic relationship between two characters
Scenariowritten outline of a film
Typewritermechanical machine used to type characters on a sheet of paper

Art of Painting

In this list, you’ll learn terms about painting styles and techniques.

Brushstrokeway of applying paint to a surface with a brush
Calligraphyart of decorative handwriting
Canvaspiece of cloth used by an artist to paint on
Contrastjuxtaposition of opposite tones and color in a work of art
Cubismearly 20th-century movement revolving around the use of simple geometric shapes
Expressionismartistic style in which the image of reality is distorted to better express the artist’s feelings or ideas
Gouachepaint consisting of a mix of natural pigment, water, and binding agents
ImpressionismFrench 19th-century style of painting that attempts to capture the feeling of a scene rather than its details
Landscapegenre of art depicting natural scenery
Palettespectrum of colors used in a painting
Pastelpaste made of pigment used to make crayons
Perspectiverepresentation of three-dimensional objects in two-dimensional artworks
Pigmentcoloring substance of paint derived from natural or synthetic sources
Portraitpainting depicting only the face or the head of shoulders of a person
Sketchrough drawing made to assist in making a finished painting
Solventliquid used for dissolving another substance allowing to clean or mix paint

Places of Art

You’ll find here some of the most common places where art is displayed to the public.

Exhibitionpublic display of works of art
Galleryroom in which people look at works of art
Museumbuilding in which objects of art, culture, history or science are displayed to the public
Theatrebuilding in which plays, shows or motion pictures are displayed

Cinema Vocabulary: General Terms Around the Notion of Cinema

Talking about theatre, let’s now see the main terms related to the art of making motion pictures movies: the Seventh Art. Cinema.

Actto perform in a movie or a play
Box officeplace where tickets are bought / commercial success of a film
Camera anglepoint of view from where the camera is filming
Castgroup of actors chosen by the director to play parts in a movie
Creditslist of people involved in the production of a film
Dialoguewritten conversations between characters of a play
Distributionprocess of diffusion of a movie to make it available to a wide audience
Dubto translate dialogues of a film in a different language
Film studioroom used to shoot movies
Moviea recording of moving images that tell a story
Plotwritten events of a film
Premierefirst public performance of a new film
Scenariowritten outline of a film
Screenplayscript and shooting directions of a movie
Setlocation where a movie or scene is shot
Shotseries of frame produced by having the camera in a certain position
Stuntdangerous physical feat, popular in action movies
Subtitletranscript or translation of dialogues displayed at the bottom of the screen
Takesingle continuous recorded experience
Voice-overnarration made by someone who doesn’t appear on-screen

a painting brush in watercolor

Common Sentences Related to Cultural Activities

Now that you know the important terms to talk about each and every cultural activity, it’s time to see how they’re used in a sentence.

Speaking about Art

  • Pablo Picasso produced more than 150.000 works of art, making him the world’s most prolific painter in the history of mankind.
  • The Louvre is the largest museum in France.
  • Besides being one of the most well-known writers in the world, William Shakespeare also used to be an established actor.

Speaking about Cinema

  • He went to the flicks with his friends.
  • This thriller was a huge box-office success.
  • The producer chose a young actor to play the lead role in its movie.

Speaking about Music

  • This pop song has catchy melodies that linger in the mind.
  • Playing the piano requires great hand-eye coordination.
  • In 2020, rap music was the most popular type of music among youngsters, while rock music was at an all-time low.

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