absorbed; absorbing; absorbs

transitive verb

: to take in (something, such as water) in a natural or gradual way
a sponge absorbs water
charcoal absorbs gas
plant roots absorb water
: to take in (knowledge, attitudes, etc.) : acquire, learn
… convictions absorbed in youth … M. R. Cohen
: use up, consume
The fever absorbed her strength.
His work absorbs all his time and attention.
: to take in and make part of an existent whole
the capacity of a country to absorb new immigrants
: to engage or engross wholly
an interest that absorbs her completely
absorbed in thought
: to receive without recoil or echo
provided with a sound-absorbing surface
: endure, sustain
absorbing hardships
: assume, bear
The expenses were absorbed by the company.
: to transform (radiant energy) into a different form especially with a resulting rise in temperature
The earth absorbs the sun's rays.
absorbability noun
absorbable adjective

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Example Sentences

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Vitamin D, meanwhile, helps regulate the immune system and allows your body to actually absorb that calcium. Kells Mcphillips, Fortune, 20 Sep. 2022 The Biden administration is leaning on other countries in the Americas to absorb more people fleeing their homes. Elliot Spagat, Chron, 19 Sep. 2022 The vacation island south of Boston, whose year-round residents include many blue-collar workers, appeared to absorb the dozens of arrivals without a major hitch. Rodrique Ngowi, ajc, 15 Sep. 2022 This quick-to-absorb formula layers seamlessly under moisturizer, sunscreen, and makeup. Allure Editors, Allure, 13 Sep. 2022 The rising emissions price translates into higher costs for electricity consumers, as well as a squeeze for industries already scrambling to absorb sky-high fuel prices. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 11 Sep. 2022 Mesa Eastmark had an extra week to absorb the disappointing last-second loss to Thatcher with a bye. Richard Obert, The Arizona Republic, 9 Sep. 2022 In theory, the joints between the different sections of the tube could be engineered to provide enough flex to absorb some shocks. John Timmer, Ars Technica, 8 Sep. 2022 When Baribeau arrived at Catholic Medical Center in 1992, the recently married 36-year-old surgeon was searching for a busy, growing practice to absorb his restless ambition. BostonGlobe.com, 7 Sep. 2022 See More

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.

Word History


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

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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

Dictionary Entries Near absorb

Cite this Entry

“Absorb.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/absorb. Accessed 30 Sep. 2022.

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Kids Definition



ab·​sorb əb-ˈsȯrb How to pronounce absorb (audio)
absorbed; absorbing
: to take in or swallow up
A sponge absorbs water.
: to hold the complete attention of
She was absorbed by the movie.
: to receive without giving back
The walls of the theater absorb sound.

Medical Definition

: 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
: 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

Legal Definition


transitive verb

: to make (a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution) applicable to the states
: to bear or assume the burden of
expenses were absorbed by the company
: to lessen the tax liability for
has other losses to absorb the income D. Q. Posin

More from Merriam-Webster on absorb

Last Updated: 23 Sep 2022

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