assimilation

noun
as·​sim·​i·​la·​tion | \ ə-ˌsi-mə-ˈlā-shən How to pronounce assimilation (audio) \

Definition of assimilation

1a : an act, process, or instance of assimilating The clash of lifestyles has made assimilation difficult.
b : the state of being assimilated
2 : the incorporation or conversion of nutrients into protoplasm that in animals follows digestion and absorption and in higher plants involves both photosynthesis and root absorption
3 phonetics : change of a sound in speech so that it becomes identical with or similar to a neighboring sound the usual assimilation of \z\ to \sh\ in the phrase his shoe
4 : the process of receiving new facts or of responding to new situations in conformity with what is already available to consciousness

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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).

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 assimilation in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This knife-edge dance between adoption and rejection comes to define Taste the Nation, as Lakshmi considers what a particular dish or place reveals about immigration, assimilation, and the hunger for home. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "Padma Lakshmi’s New Food Show Is a Trojan Horse," 8 July 2020 This is the end goal of the four-century long assimilation ploy. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "Reckoning With Anti-Blackness in Indian Country," 3 July 2020 The book’s release coincided with the growing and militant Chicano movement that stressed cultural pride over assimilation. Russell Contreras, BostonGlobe.com, "Rudolfo Anaya, ‘godfather’ of Chicano literature, dies at 82," 1 July 2020 The book’s release coincided with the growing and militant Chicano movement that stressed cultural pride over assimilation. Washington Post, "Rudolfo Anaya, ‘godfather’ of Chicano literature, dies at 82," 1 July 2020 The book’s release coincided with the growing and militant Chicano movement that stressed cultural pride over assimilation. Russell Contreras, USA TODAY, "'Bless Me, Ultima' author Rudolfo Anaya, pioneer of Chicano Literature Movement, dies at 82," 1 July 2020 Definitions for the processes of photosynthesis, respiration, transpiration and assimilation were particularly informative for me. Sally Peterson, oregonlive, "’The New Gardener’s Handbook” awakens intuitive skills, plant passion," 30 June 2020 Assimilation into one’s tribe required assimilation into the group’s ideological belief system – regardless of whether it was grounded in science or superstition. Adrian Bardon, Scientific American, "Coronavirus Responses Highlight How Humans Have Evolved to Dismiss Facts That Don’t Fit Their Worldview," 26 June 2020 Lincoln, Roosevelt, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and countless others still honored across our landscapes are just as responsible for genocide, land theft, and forced assimilation as Trump’s hero. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "Now Do Lincoln," 11 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'assimilation.' 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 assimilation

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for assimilation

see assimilate entry 1

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Learn More about assimilation

Time Traveler for assimilation

Time Traveler

The first known use of assimilation was in the 15th century

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Statistics for assimilation

Last Updated

22 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Assimilation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/assimilation. Accessed 12 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for assimilation

assimilation

noun
as·​sim·​i·​la·​tion | \ ə-ˌsi-mə-ˈlā-shən How to pronounce assimilation (audio) \

Kids Definition of assimilation

: the act or process of assimilating

assimilation

noun
as·​sim·​i·​la·​tion | \ ə-ˌsim-ə-ˈlā-shən How to pronounce assimilation (audio) \

Medical Definition of assimilation

1a : an act, process, or instance of assimilating
b : the state of being assimilated
2 : the incorporation or conversion of nutrients into protoplasm that in animals follows digestion and absorption and in higher plants involves both photosynthesis and root absorption
3 : the process of receiving new facts or of responding to new situations in conformity with what is already available to consciousness — compare apperception

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Comments on assimilation

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