assimilation

noun
as·sim·i·la·tion | \ə-ˌsi-mə-ˈlā-shən \

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

Guilt is a sentiment that has been taught to us in part by assimilation. Ella Cerón, Teen Vogue, "For Latinx-American Kids, Fear of La Migra Has Always Existed," 3 July 2018 The assimilation to hostile conditions, the initiation into killing, the grievous bodily harm that inscribes the war permanently on minds and limbs constitute an uncanny refrain. Charles Mcnulty, latimes.com, "In 'Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue,' the silent pain of war echoes through three generations," 6 Feb. 2018 For kids glued to the World Cup, the focus shouldn’t be on the inexcusable fakery among athletes taking a dive, but the assimilation of cultures. Bruce Jenkins, SFChronicle.com, "Best of the World Cup: when cultures mix," 6 July 2018 Opponents see the bridge as a means by which to force assimilation and exert control. Sarah Lazarus, CNN, "The $20 billion 'umbilical cord': China unveils the world's longest sea-crossing bridge," 4 May 2018 Carlisle administrations saw Outing as a potent means to promote assimilation. Jeff Gammage, Philly.com, "A search for native children who died on 'Outings' in Pa.," 2 May 2018 Her solution for not forgetting her real home was shunning assimilation. Margarita Gokun Silver, Longreads, "The Forever Nomad," 30 Apr. 2018 For example, another study found that a broader package of facts about U.S. immigration — including not only the share of immigrants in the population but also their economic and linguistic assimilation — increased support for immigration. John Sides, Washington Post, "Americans vastly overestimate the number of immigrants. But what if it doesn’t matter?," 22 June 2018 This is the case for a lot of South Asian communities in the U.S. Our conformity has been essential to our assimilation. Kt Hawbaker, chicagotribune.com, "Performance artist Alok Vaid-Menon on why identity categories don't work — but stories do," 21 June 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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Last Updated

29 Sep 2018

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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 \

Kids Definition of assimilation

: the act or process of assimilating

assimilation

noun
as·sim·i·la·tion | \ə-ˌsim-ə-ˈlā-shən \

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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