cop·​u·​late | \ˈkä-pyə-ˌlāt \
copulated; copulating

Definition of copulate 

intransitive verb

: to engage in sexual intercourse

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Other Words from copulate

copulation \ ˌkä-​pyə-​ˈlā-​shən \ noun
copulatory \ ˈkä-​pyə-​lə-​ˌtȯr-​ē \ adjective

Synonyms for copulate


breed, mate, sleep

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Examples of copulate in a Sentence

Some animals have complex mating rituals before they copulate. the time of year when deer in the wild are likely to copulate

Recent Examples on the Web

Even with the copulating couple caught on camera, the attention is all on the child's response to the spectacle. Marlisse Cepeda, Woman's Day, "Little Girl Has Adorable Reaction to Two Turtles Mating," 26 Jan. 2015 In New York, detectives have turned their attention to a student-actress' accusation she was forced to orally copulate the producer in 2004 and another actress' allegation of rape in 2010. Richard Winton,, "Fate of Harvey Weinstein sexual assault cases now in hands of two cautious prosecutors," 20 Mar. 2018 Danish challengers, asked to make a dessert fit for a bachelor party, offered buttercream buttocks and fondant figures copulating under the covers. The Economist, "How “Bake Off” went global," 31 Aug. 2017 In two reported cases, females feasted on birds while copulating with males. Natalie Angier, New York Times, "Birds Beware: The Praying Mantis Wants Your Brain," 22 Sep. 2017 James also disapproves when Gina begins dressing more provocatively, dyeing her straw-colored hair light blond and, during a visit to Barcelona to see her sister (Ahna O’Reilly), watching a peep show featuring a couple copulating in animal masks. Michael O’sullivan, idahostatesman, "‘All I See Is You’: A thriller with more marital melodrama than mystery," 26 Oct. 2017 In some species, males may even refuse to copulate with certain females. Zuleyma Tang-martinez, Smithsonian, "How Victorian Gender Norms Shaped the Way We Think About Animal Sex," 24 Jan. 2017 General George Washington ordered Lieutenant Gotthold Frederick Enslin literally drummed out of the Continental Army for copulating with a private in his cabin. Dave Cullen,, "“Betrayal”: Transgender Troops React to Trump’s Ban," 2 Aug. 2017 General George Washington ordered Lieutenant Gotthold Frederick Enslin literally drummed out of the Continental Army for copulating with a private in his cabin. Chiara Marinai, The Hive, "“Betrayal”: Transgender Troops React to Trump’s Ban," 2 Aug. 2017

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

1630, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for copulate

Latin copulatus, past participle of copulare to join, from copula — see copula

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Statistics for copulate

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Time Traveler for copulate

The first known use of copulate was in 1630

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English Language Learners Definition of copulate

: to have sexual intercourse

cop·​u·​late | \ˈkäp-yə-ˌlāt \
copulated; copulating

Medical Definition of copulate 

1 : to engage in sexual intercourse

2 of gametes : to fuse permanently — compare conjugate sense 1

Other Words from copulate

copulation \ ˌkäp-​yə-​ˈlā-​shən \ noun
copulatory \ ˈkäp-​yə-​lə-​ˌtōr-​ē, -​ˌtȯr-​ \ adjective

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Comments on copulate

What made you want to look up copulate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


by force of circumstances

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