assimilate

verb
as·sim·i·late | \ ə-ˈsi-mə-ˌlāt \
assimilated; assimilating

Definition of assimilate 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to take into the mind and thoroughly understand assimilate information Students need to assimilate new concepts.

b : to take in and utilize as nourishment : to absorb into the system The body assimilates digested food.

2a : to absorb into the cultural tradition of a population or group … the belief that tolerant hosts would be able to assimilate immigrants of whatever creed or colour. —Brian Holmes

b : to make similar … the only faculty that seems to assimilate man to the immortal gods. —Joseph Conrad

c phonetics : to alter by the process of assimilation (see assimilation sense 3)

3 : compare, liken

intransitive verb

: to be taken in or absorbed : to become assimilated Food assimilates better if taken slowly. —Francis Cutler Marshall

assimilate

noun
as·sim·i·late | \ ə-ˈsi-mə-lət , -ˌlāt \

Definition of assimilate (Entry 2 of 2)

: something that is assimilated

Keep scrolling for more

Other words from assimilate

Verb

assimilator \-ˌlā-tər \ noun

What prepositions are used with assimilate?: Usage Guide

Verb

When assimilate is followed by a preposition, transitive senses 2a and 2b commonly take to and into and less frequently with; sense 2c regularly takes to; sense 3 most often takes to and sometimes with. The most frequent prepositions used with the intransitive sense are to and into.

Linguistic assimilation?

There are a handful of words in English that are examples of themselves, representatives of the very things that they describe. One such word is sesquipedalian ("having many syllables" or "characterized by the use of long words"). Another example, in a slightly less obvious fashion, is assimilate. When used as a technical word to describe a certain process of language change, assimilate refers to the habit that some sounds have of becoming more like the sounds that are close to them in a word (see assimilation, sense 3). For instance, the original spelling of immovable in English was inmovable, and over time the n began to sound more like its neighboring m, to the point that it actually became that letter.

Something similar occurred before assimilate was a word in English. Assimilate comes from the Latin prefix ad- (meaning "to, towards") and similis ("similar"). Over time the d of the prefix ad- assimilated itself with the s of similis.

Examples of assimilate in a Sentence

Verb

Over time, most of the inhabitants of the "Little Italies" … assimilated rapidly to the society … —Stephan Thernstrom, Times Literary Supplement, 26 May 2000 Those groups were eagerly assimilating into the larger culture and rejecting their own cuisine … —Corby Kummer, New York Times Book Review, 16 Aug. 1998 The mistaken attempts to assimilate Lindner's paintings into the Pop Art movement in the 1960s … —Hilton Kramer, Arts & Antiques, January 1997 Children need to assimilate new ideas. There was a lot of information to assimilate at school. Schools were used to assimilate the children of immigrants. They found it hard to assimilate to American society. Many of these religious traditions have been assimilated into the culture.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

They're discovered, and have trouble assimilating into society. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "'Leave No Trace' star Ben Foster: 'You can fake chemistry'," 29 June 2018 History demonstrates that the black people in this country must either be assimilated or annihilated. Fred Niedner, Post-Tribune, "Niedner: Recommitting to our founding values crucial to future," 6 July 2018 Many were concerned that the refugees would take jobs from Americans and fail to assimilate, and the move was unpopular in some circles. Daniel E. Slotnik, New York Times, "Robert D. Ray, Centrist G.O.P. Governor of Iowa, Dies at 89," 10 July 2018 Just ask Connor Murphy or Trevor Daley, who struggled assimilating. David Haugh, chicagotribune.com, "Why aren't the Blackhawks and Stan Bowman approaching this offseason with more urgency?," 3 July 2018 People who look or sound different are the object of hate and, sometimes, violence, as if our relatives didn’t once have to assimilate as well. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "America has forgotten what it stands for. The 2026 World Cup is our chance to get things right.," 13 June 2018 One major difficulty with perception, Clark realized, was that there was far too much sensory signal continuously coming in to assimilate it all. Naomi Fry, The New Yorker, "The Mind-Expanding Ideas of Andy Clark," 26 Mar. 2018 Strangely, the gold here is of a quicksilver nature, slipping from focus (despite its crystalline particularity) so that one returns repeatedly to passages like the above, trying to truly assimilate them. Joan Frank, SFChronicle.com, "‘Kudos,’ by Rachel Cusk," 6 July 2018 Critics of the veils argue that the ban makes public spaces safer and encourages foreigners to assimilate into the country’s culture. Madeleine Ngo, Vox, "The Netherlands just passed a law banning face veils in public buildings," 26 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

According to Sessions, a good immigrant assimilates. Jeneé Osterheldt, kansascity, "This immigrant now lives the American Dream: Do you have a problem with that?," 6 Sep. 2017

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

See More

First Known Use of assimilate

Verb

1671, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1b

Noun

1935, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for assimilate

Verb

Middle English, from Medieval Latin assimilatus, past participle of assimilare, from Latin assimulare to make similar, from ad- + simulare to make similar, simulate

Noun

see assimilate entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about assimilate

Share assimilate

Statistics for assimilate

Last Updated

13 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for assimilate

The first known use of assimilate was in 1671

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for assimilate

assimilate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of assimilate

: to learn (something) so that it is fully understood and can be used

: to cause (a person or group) to become part of a different society, country, etc.

: to adopt the ways of another culture : to fully become part of a different society, country, etc.

assimilate

verb
as·sim·i·late | \ ə-ˈsi-mə-ˌlāt \
assimilated; assimilating

Kids Definition of assimilate

1 : to become or cause to become part of a different group or country She was completely assimilated into her new country.

2 : to take in and make part of a larger thing The body assimilates nutrients in food.

3 : to learn thoroughly assimilate new ideas

assimilate

verb
as·sim·i·late | \ ə-ˈsim-ə-ˌlāt \
assimilated; assimilating

Medical Definition of assimilate 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to take in and utilize as nourishment : absorb into the system

2 : to absorb into the cultural tradition of a population or group the community assimilated many immigrants

intransitive verb

1 : to become absorbed or incorporated into the system some foods assimilate more readily than others

2 : to become culturally assimilated

assimilate

noun
as·sim·i·late | \ -lət, -ˌlāt \

Medical Definition of assimilate (Entry 2 of 2)

: something that is assimilated

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on assimilate

What made you want to look up assimilate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

occurring twice a year or every two years

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!