ab·sorb | \əb-ˈsȯrb, -ˈzȯrb \
absorbed; absorbing; absorbs

Definition of absorb 

transitive verb

1a : to take in (something, such as water) in a natural or gradual way a sponge absorbs water charcoal absorbs gas plant roots absorb water

b : to take in (knowledge, attitudes, etc.) : acquire, learn … convictions absorbed in youth …— M. R. Cohen

c : use up, consume The fever absorbed her strength. His work absorbs all his time and attention.

2 : to take in and make part of an existent whole the capacity of a country to absorb new immigrants

3 : to engage or engross wholly an interest that absorbs her completely absorbed in thought

4a(1) : to receive without recoil or echo provided with a sound-absorbing surface

(2) : endure, sustain absorbing hardships

(3) : assume, bear The expenses were absorbed by the company.

b : to transform (radiant energy) into a different form especially with a resulting rise in temperature The earth absorbs the sun's rays.

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Other Words from absorb

absorbability \əb-ˌsȯr-bə-ˈbi-lə-tē, -ˌzȯr- \ noun
absorbable \əb-ˈsȯr-bə-bəl, -ˈzȯr- \ adjective
absorber noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for absorb


burn, consume, deplete, devour, drain, draw down, exhaust, expend, play out, spend, use up


renew, replace

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Examples of absorb in a Sentence

a fabric that absorbs sweat The walls are made of a material that absorbs sound. absorbing heat from the sun She is good at absorbing information. He has retained the values that he absorbed as a young man. a country that has absorbed many immigrants smaller countries invaded and absorbed by bigger ones His interest in photography absorbs him completely. I was so absorbed by her story that I lost track of time.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The economy’s strength may be why the Trump administration feels comfortable being so aggressive—any negative hits will just be absorbed by an economy running hot. David Dayen, The New Republic, "The Inevitable Death of Global Trade As We Know It," 12 July 2018 That rainwater has soaked into the soil where plants’ roots can absorb it and pass it up to their leaves for cooling purposes. Beth Botts, chicagotribune.com, "What does scorching heat mean for trees and plants?," 3 July 2018 Add saffron, oregano, bay leaf, onion, and 1 cup of water, stirring until it is absorbed. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "How To Eat Well When You're Camping," 26 June 2018 Reef-friendly: Think of Beautycounter’s new Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 as the holy grail of mineral sunscreen — gender-neutral, fast-absorbing and no corpse-like finish — everybody wins, including the kids. Janna Mandell, SFChronicle.com, "Summer skin-care solutions by microclimate," 12 July 2018 Many caught in the initial line of fire — U.S. farmers absorbing tariffs on their exports to China, for instance — are fearful. Author: Paul Wiseman, Josh Boakap, Anchorage Daily News, "US-China trade war elevates the risks to the global economy," 7 July 2018 Southern Nevada water users should be able to absorb additional cuts outlined in the drought contingency plan and have an agreement to share costs, said John Entsminger, general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority in Las Vegas. Felicia Fonseca, The Christian Science Monitor, "Arizona commits to producing drought plan for Colorado River," 29 June 2018 The idea is to make the three-block stretch into a compelling sequence of varied spaces — civic in scale, able to absorb protests and parades with ease, but cozy enough so that nearby residents and workers might want to stop by on a daily basis. John King, SFChronicle.com, "Civic Center makeover: Here’s the plan to revamp the heart of SF," 29 June 2018 Canada, Mexico and others would likely retaliate with duties, and automakers won't be able to absorb all of the increases. Tom Krisher, chicagotribune.com, "Experts say auto tariffs would raise prices, cost jobs," 18 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'absorb.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of absorb

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for absorb

borrowed from Middle French assorber, absorber, asorbir, absorbir, going back to Old French, borrowed (with conjugation changes) from Latin absorbēre, from ab- ab- + sorbēre "to suck up, draw in, engulf," going back to Indo-European *sṛbh-eii̯̯e-, probably re-formed from *srobh-eii̯̯e-, iterative derivative from the verb base *srebh- "suck up, drink noisily"; akin to Greek rophéō, ropheîn "to drink in gulps," Armenian arbi "drank," Lithuanian srebiù, srė̃bti "to gulp," Old Russian sereblyu, serebati

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Statistics for absorb

Last Updated

19 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for absorb

The first known use of absorb was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for absorb


ab·sorb | \əb-ˈsȯrb, -ˈzȯrb\
absorbed; absorbing

Kids Definition of absorb

1 : to take in or swallow up A sponge absorbs water.

2 : to hold the complete attention of She was absorbed by the movie.

3 : to receive without giving back The walls of the theater absorb sound.

ab·sorb | \əb-ˈsȯ(ə)rb, -ˈzȯ(ə)rb \

Medical Definition of absorb 

1 : to take up especially by capillary, osmotic, solvent, or chemical action surgical sutures which can be absorbed by the body the blood in the lungs absorbs oxygen

2 : to transform (radiant energy) into a different form usually with a resulting rise in temperature chlorophyll reflects green light and absorbs the other colors of light

Other Words from absorb

absorbable \əb-ˈsȯr-bə-bəl, -ˈzȯr- \ adjective
absorber noun

Legal Definition of absorb 

1 : to make (a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution) applicable to the states

2a : to bear or assume the burden of expenses were absorbed by the company

b : to lessen the tax liability for has other losses to absorb the income— D. Q. Posin

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Comments on absorb

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