well cultivated/well bred

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Senior Member
Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect

Today my teacher said that people in the US used two ways to describe "He has a good upbringing", that is "He is well cultivated" and "He is well bred".

I agree with the first one. But I am not sure.

As for the second one, I think it is wrong.

May I have your help?

Thanks a lot
  • paul f

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Just to add my two cents, I personally much prefer 'He is well bred' to 'He is well cultivated', although this may be another example of BE vs. AE.

    However in fact if it was me I would be more likely to say something like 'He is well educated', even when talking about more than simply his academic background.


    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    A well-bred person is one who has good breeding, that is who was been brought up well in terms of conversation, manners, interests, and so on: social rather than educational skills.

    'Cultivated' but not 'well cultivated'. This refers more to intellectual breeding, though not education as such: good taste in books or music, a good accent (a 'cultivated accent'), a fund of everyday knowledge on topics that enable the person to keep up a conversation in a well-bred way.

    Both terms seem rather old-fashioned to me. Or perhaps the qualities that they represent do.


    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    I agree with Entangledbank that these terms not much in contemporary use. We differ a little in what they might mean.

    My interpretations:

    To say that someone has had a "good upbringing" is a judgment that the person's parents have conformed to your notion of proper child-rearing.

    A "cultivated" person (as EB notes, not "well-cultivated", which sounds like a garden) is one who presumably understands and appreciates such things as fine art, good (classical) music, great literature, and the like.

    A "well-bred" person combines the above and manifests extremely good manners.

    To my mind, all three expressions smack of snobbery.

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    Good breeding is still used in the UK by some people to describe other people. For me, I try to avoid it because it echoes the class snobbery of my country which I do not like. It made me smile that you see the link to breeding animal livestock, but this connection has never stopped snobs from using the phrase!
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