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

Most people are familiar with the concept of solar harvesting, or absorbing energy from the Sun and converting it into power. Angela Chen, The Verge, "How solar panels could cool our homes while harvesting energy," 12 Nov. 2018 Brines will absorb more oxygen when the temperature is lower and the air pressure is higher. Deborah Netburn, The Seattle Times, "Mars could have enough molecular oxygen to support life," 26 Oct. 2018 Place bread on a baking sheet and bake until beginning to turn golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes; transfer to a large bowl. Pour broth over bread and let sit, tossing occasionally, until absorbed; fold in eggs. Woman's Day Test Kitchen, Woman's Day, "Herb Dressing," 24 Oct. 2018 Place bread on rimmed baking sheet and bake until beginning to turn golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes; transfer to large bowl. Pour broth over bread and let sit, tossing occasionally, until absorbed. The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen, Good Housekeeping, "Northwest Fruit Stuffing," 23 Oct. 2018 Strong fluctuations in temperature seem to require that helium absorb a lot of light. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Beautiful 3D model of stars explains changes in brightness," 8 Oct. 2018 Those duties amount to a tax, which producers can pass along to consumers through higher prices or absorb at risk of shrinking profits. Bruce Schreiner, Fox News, "Kentucky bourbon inventory at highest level since 1972," 27 Sep. 2018 On the sweat front, the brand ditched aluminum in favor of corn starch, which absorbs wetness without baking soda's potential for skin irritation. Rachel Nussbaum, Glamour, "I Tried the Natural Deodorant With a 13,000-Person Waitlist," 13 Sep. 2018 Well, a 2016 study on 2,000 women suggested that the association between ovarian cancer and talcum powder comes from talc — a mineral made up of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen, that absorbs moisture — not asbestos. refinery29.com, "Johnson & Johnson Owes $4.69 Billion In Another Ovarian Cancer Case," 13 July 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

16 Nov 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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by force of circumstances

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