ac·​cul·​tur·​a·​tion ə-ˌkəl-chə-ˈrā-shən How to pronounce acculturation (audio)
: cultural modification of an individual, group, or people by adapting to or borrowing traits from another culture
the acculturation of immigrants to American life
also : a merging of cultures as a result of prolonged contact
: the process by which a human being acquires the culture of a particular society from infancy
acculturational adjective
acculturative adjective

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What is the difference between acculturation, assimilation, and amalgamation?

Acculturation is one of several forms of culture contact, and has a couple of closely related terms, including assimilation and amalgamation. Although all three of these words refer to changes due to contact between different cultures, there are notable differences between them. Acculturation is often tied to political conquest or expansion, and is applied to the process of change in beliefs or traditional practices that occurs when the cultural system of one group displaces that of another. Assimilation refers to the process through which individuals and groups of differing heritages acquire the basic habits, attitudes, and mode of life of an embracing culture. Amalgamation refers to a blending of cultures, rather than one group eliminating another (acculturation) or one group mixing itself into another (assimilation).

Examples of acculturation in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The last extensive pagan regions of Europe, along the southeast shore of the Baltic, remained so into the 14th century, illustrating just how long the process of religious acculturation could take. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 8 Apr. 2013 This is in large part due to acculturation. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 23 Apr. 2012 While there is tremendous diversity among Asian Americans in terms of levels of education, income, acculturation, exposure to war or other trauma, about 60% of all people of Asian descent were born outside the United States, according to 2020 census data. Los Angeles Times, 28 Sep. 2022 Much of this occurred via assimilation and acculturation of non-Russian Uralic and Altaic populations. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 19 Feb. 2012 Archaeologists and anthropologists have imposed disease, demographic collapse and acculturation as explanations of discontinuity and cultural extinction. Keith Kloor, Discover Magazine, 17 Mar. 2010 Women of diverse backgrounds (n = 275) reported on craving frequency and triggers and completed validated measures of acculturation. Seriously Science, Discover Magazine, 26 July 2017 The encroachment of cultivation on Yamino and similar communities has piled further pressure on the region’s Indigenous groups, who were already struggling with inequality, acculturation and the loss of languages. Simeon Tegel, Washington Post, 27 Aug. 2022 In addition to disparities among ethnic groups, improper aggregation also masks significant differences based on migrant status and acculturation level. Claire Wang, NBC News, 7 June 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'acculturation.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


ad- + culture entry 1 + -ation

Note: Word introduced by the American soldier, geologist, and explorer John Wesley Powell (1834-1902) in Introduction to the Study of Indian Languages (Smithsonian Institution, 1880), and used by him subsequently in a number of essays.

First Known Use

1880, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of acculturation was in 1880

Dictionary Entries Near acculturation

Cite this Entry

“Acculturation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on acculturation

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