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

Many argue in favor of assimilation, but its scruffier cousin, reinvention, was a great American theme for a long, long time. Andrew Dansby, Houston Chronicle, "Folk legend Jack Elliott rambles onto the big screen and into town," 3 Sep. 2019 Inheriting an ideology of cultural survival from Québec, the French Canadians in the U.S. resisted assimilation. David Vernette, Smithsonian, "When an Influx of French-Canadian Immigrants Struck Fear Into Americans," 21 Aug. 2019 Nothing suggests an imminent civil rights movement; Levinson’s hints at the culture of assimilation . . Armond White, National Review, "The Baltimore Culture Wars: A History," 31 July 2019 What has been lost in the multicultural evolution of fast food in LA is the model of assimilation, integration and self-betterment that donut stores embodied. The Economist, "How donuts fuelled the American Dream," 26 July 2019 How do parents, whether immigrants or natives, react to the cultural assimilation of their children? Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Made in China': Film Review," 8 July 2019 Alaska Native people don’t have to have personally experienced boarding schools and forced assimilation to feel the effects of historical trauma. Anchorage Daily News, "Tradition, culture, and the healing power of community," 18 June 2019 Yes, assimilation and smartphones—and, before them, legal crackdowns amid the AIDS crisis—have thinned the ranks of spots like The Club. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "Cruising in the Age of Consent," 19 June 2019 Amid the swirling sand and the pell-mell assimilation of the stragglers, one motorcycle skids to a halt. Robert Draper, National Geographic, "Surrounded by chaos, Niger is a nation on the edge," 17 June 2019

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

Statistics for assimilation

Last Updated

15 Sep 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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