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do·​mes·​ti·​cate də-ˈme-sti-ˌkāt How to pronounce domesticate (audio)
domesticated; domesticating

transitive verb

: to bring into use in one's own country : to bring into domestic use : adopt
started to domesticate European customs
: to adapt (an animal or plant) over time from a wild or natural state especially by selective breeding to life in close association with and to the benefit of humans
The Asian equids, including the now-endangered Przewalski's horse, apparently provided the stock from which the horse was domesticated five to six thousand years ago.Bruce J. MacFadden
But every reader addicted to coffee can thank ancient Ethiopian farmers for domesticating the coffee plant.Jared Diamond
: to cause to become adapted to life in a household : to make fit for domestic life
wasn't interested in becoming domesticated
: to bring to the level of ordinary people


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do·​mes·​ti·​cate də-ˈme-sti-kət How to pronounce domesticate (audio)
: a domesticated (see domesticate entry 1 sense 2) animal or plant

Example Sentences

Verb Horses and oxen have been domesticated to work on farms. She jokes that dogs are easier to domesticate than men.
Recent Examples on the Web
Should the trials be successful, the next stage is identifying manufacturers, with many more steps before laying hens, domesticated turkeys and broilers are vaccinated. Laura Reiley, Washington Post, 2 May 2023 Read on for the 12 flowers that are most toxic for animals (domesticated or wild!). Arricca Elin Sansone, House Beautiful, 22 Apr. 2023 As people lived in closer proximity to each other and their livestock, disease could transmit more easily between humans and domesticated animals. Joshua Rapp Learn, Discover Magazine, 21 Apr. 2023 Like his bandmate Chris Martin, who is married to Gwyneth Paltrow, Buckland is thoroughly, happily domesticated. Nancy Hass, ELLE Decor, 15 Apr. 2023 Carson took the rabbit to animal control once realizing he was domesticated, but he was never claimed, according to the department. Taylor Nicioli, CNN, 11 Apr. 2023 The new strain complicates treatment of infected sea otters—drugs used for humans and domesticated animals can help—says Michael Murray, a veterinarian at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which treats about 10 sea otters with toxoplasmosis per year. Byerik Stokstad,, 22 Mar. 2023 For more information about prevention, especially for people who keep domesticated birds or are bird-watching hobbyists, the Centers for Disease Control has a list of guidelines for avoiding H5N1 and other bird flu viruses. Emma Worden-sapper, The Conversation, 16 Mar. 2023 Now, the virus is raising alarms beyond egg prices and the enormous loss of wild and domesticated birds. Maggie O'neill, SELF, 14 Mar. 2023
And whereas other domesticates, like dogs, look quite distinct from their wild ancestors, the average domestic cat largely retains the wild body plan. Andrew C. Kitchener, Scientific American, 1 Sep. 2015 This explains the extremely low genetic diversity in japonica, if there's a sweep up in frequency of a particular ancestral haplotype then what were polymorphisms in the wild type become monomorphic in the domesticate. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 7 June 2011 Many of the herbivores grazing the mixed scrub are tough domesticates standing in as surrogates for extinct species. Christopher Preston, The Atlantic, 9 Apr. 2020 The idea was first floated in 2016 when a group including University of São Paulo plant physiologist Lázaro Eustáquio Pereira Peres revealed a plan to re-domesticate tomatoes. Jonathon Keats, Discover Magazine, 15 Apr. 2019 Their brains are smaller than chimpanzees’, a shift also seen in many domesticates. John Hawks, WSJ, 25 Jan. 2019 So if ants are growing wet habitat-loving fungi, and remove them to a dry habitat, that's sort of like humans taking one of their domesticates out of its native range. Brian Handwerk, Smithsonian, 12 Apr. 2017 So if ants are growing wet habitat-loving fungi, and remove them to a dry habitat, that's sort of like humans taking one of their domesticates out of its native range. Brian Handwerk, Smithsonian, 12 Apr. 2017 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'domesticate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



see domestic entry 1


see domestic entry 1

First Known Use


circa 1639, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1951, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of domesticate was circa 1639

Dictionary Entries Near domesticate

Cite this Entry

“Domesticate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2023.

Kids Definition


domesticated; domesticating
: to adapt to living with human beings and to serving their purposes
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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