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 Bigotry is both a strategy for assimilation—a way to align himself with whiteness—and an ever-present reminder of his own outsider status. Abby Aguirre, The New Yorker, 13 July 2021 Over time, attitudes about how best to run the boarding schools slowly began to change, the push for assimilation was relaxed, the curriculum expanded to include more academic subjects. oregonlive, 8 Apr. 2021 Montooth said the school, which stayed open for 90 years, was operated like a military academy with the goal of assimilation. Marcella Corona, USA TODAY, 6 July 2021 This book is a testament to the strength of America's immigrant families and the forces that have governed American ideas of assimilation. Star Tribune, 26 June 2021 The symbolism lends itself to interpretations of queerness, or as an allegory of assimilation. Alison Willmore, Vulture, 17 June 2021 The onboarding process should not be robotic and should allow time for socializing and learning, which bridges the gap between engagement and assimilation. Expert Panel®, Forbes, 21 June 2021 The page that records the change in the records of the New York State Legislature is littered with a host of similar transformations, marking the first stages of American assimilation for many Jewish families. Dan Rockmore, The New Yorker, 20 June 2021 But the fish skin tradition eventually declined in the 20th century, due to colonialism, assimilation and changing policies and laws affecting Indigenous groups. Gia Yetikyel, Smithsonian Magazine, 11 June 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near assimilation

assimilate

assimilation

assimilationist

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Statistics for assimilation

Last Updated

23 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Assimilation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/assimilation. Accessed 29 Jul. 2021.

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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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