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

The defeat of the American ideal of integration and assimilation by diversity and identity politics leads to social outcomes exactly as Messrs. Wood and Pierre describe. WSJ, "Separate but Equal on American Campuses," 5 May 2019 Consumed by her nagging, overbearing affectations, the Jewish mother was to blame for the persistent woes of the Jewish American male — his anxiety, his neuroticism, his own assimilation failures. Jamie Lauren Keiles, Vox, "How the JAP became America’s most complex Jewish stereotype.," 5 Dec. 2018 Readers will learn fascinating tidbits of language, habits and cultural assimilation. Rinker Buck, WSJ, "‘Black Flags, Blue Waters’ Review: To Live and Die a Pirate King," 26 Sep. 2018 Much of biblical literature is consumed with resisting them, both as exterior forces that opposed the ways of God and interior pulls that tempt good people with assimilation. Rachel Held Evans, Washington Post, "The Bible is literature for the resistance," 12 July 2018 Amy Bass has crafted the perfect parable for our time with the story of the immigration and assimilation of high-school soccer players from Somalia. Jane Leavy, WSJ, "What to Give: Sports Books," 16 Nov. 2018 Those legacies were born of a tortuous story of colonial conquest and forced assimilation. Simon Romero, New York Times, "Indian Slavery Once Thrived in New Mexico. Latinos Are Finding Family Ties to It.," 28 Jan. 2018 So far, all of this should be familiar to anyone who has followed the debates over immigration and assimilation. Jonah Goldberg, National Review, "Is Diversity a Strength, and Should Strength Be a Core Value?," 17 Jan. 2018 But the assimilation process has been made harder by increasingly aggressive propaganda campaigns in the Russian-language news media, narratives widely believed to be directed from Moscow with the intent of heightening divisions. Marc Santora, New York Times, "Trump Derides NATO as ‘Obsolete.’ Baltic Nations See It Much Differently.," 10 July 2018

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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Statistics for assimilation

Last Updated

12 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for assimilation

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

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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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