assimilate

verb
as·​sim·​i·​late | \ ə-ˈsi-mə-ˌlāt How to pronounce assimilate (audio) \
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 How to pronounce assimilate (audio) , -ˌlāt How to pronounce assimilate (audio) \

Definition of assimilate (Entry 2 of 2)

: something that is assimilated

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Other Words from assimilate

Verb

assimilator \ ə-​ˈsi-​mə-​ˌlā-​tər How to pronounce assimilate (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for assimilate

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Party officials, hoping to assimilate the indigenous residents, sought to strip away their traditions—their Muslim faith, their schools, even their native languages. Raffi Khatchadourian, The New Yorker, "Surviving the Crackdown in Xinjiang," 5 Apr. 2021 Early Adopters: Early adopters assimilate into the new culture eager to grow and change their way of thinking. Brad Cousins, Forbes, "Is Your Workplace Culture Built For Crisis?," 5 Apr. 2021 Slaughter on such a scale must have been well-nigh impossible to comprehend or assimilate. John Banville, The New Republic, "The Haunted Imagination of Alfred Hitchcock," 1 Apr. 2021 Before the Senate committee, tribal members testified that the bill was important because of the nation's history of erasing Native American culture by prohibiting traditional practices and setting up boarding schools to assimilate youth. Patty Nieberg, Star Tribune, "Colorado is latest to weigh ban on Native American mascots," 1 Apr. 2021 The Chinese ability to assimilate that data, to try to identify who works in the IC and who doesn't work in the IC. CBS News, "Adam Schiff wants to "reset" the House Intelligence Committee," 3 Mar. 2021 Cold War stories in which aliens assimilate and impersonate humans, literalizing the Wellsian terror of being unable to tell yourself from the monster that has trespassed across your borders. Noah Berlatsky, Los Angeles Times, "Review: In the beautiful gross-out sci-fi novel ‘Skyward Inn,’ we are all aliens," 16 Mar. 2021 Ginny, caught between wanting to assimilate and wanting to raze the neighborhood, can’t rest, sensing that, somewhere, there’s blood in the water. Doreen St. Félix, The New Yorker, "Queen Latifah Obliterates Trumps n’ Musks in “The Equalizer”," 8 Mar. 2021 And opportunities to move services closer to home, to address racial disparities and inequities in care delivery, to assimilate social determinants into all care models, and to more aggressively improve mental and behavioral health. Bill Frist, Forbes, "Six Hopeful Healthcare Trends For 2021," 5 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Now, the pressure is on resident advisers and others to help the Class of 2023 assimilate. Nick Anderson, Washington Post, "There’s no room in the residence halls at Virginia Tech. That’s why freshmen are at a Holiday Inn Express.," 25 Aug. 2019 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.

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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 and Noun

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

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Time Traveler for assimilate

Time Traveler

The first known use of assimilate was in 1671

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Statistics for assimilate

Last Updated

16 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Assimilate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/assimilate. Accessed 21 Apr. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce assimilate (audio) \
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 How to pronounce assimilate (audio) \
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 How to pronounce assimilate (audio) \

Medical Definition of assimilate (Entry 2 of 2)

: something that is assimilated

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Comments on assimilate

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