do·​mes·​ti·​cate | \də-ˈme-sti-ˌkāt \
domesticated; domesticating

Definition of domesticate 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to bring into use in one's own country : to bring into domestic use : adopt started to domesticate European customs

2 : 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

3 : to cause to become adapted to life in a household : to make fit for domestic life wasn't interested in becoming domesticated

4 : to bring to the level of ordinary people


do·​mes·​ti·​cate | \-kət, -ˌkāt\

Definition of domesticate (Entry 2 of 2)

: a domesticated (see domesticate entry 1 sense 2) animal or plant

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Other Words from domesticate


domestication \-​ˌmes-​ti-​ˈkā-​shən \ noun

Examples of domesticate in a Sentence


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: Verb

But where Theobroma cacao was domesticated has been a matter of debate. Rachel Sugar, Vox, "Chocolate has been around for millennia. New research suggests it’s even older than we thought.," 31 Oct. 2018 This rapid growth has reinvigorated the party's longtime mission to domesticate a religion traditionally aligned with the West. Yanan Wang, Fox News, "Christian heartland opens window into fight for China's soul," 7 Aug. 2018 Scientists mostly agree that cacao was first domesticated in South America instead of Central America as previously believed. Candice Choi, The Seattle Times, "How old is cacao? New research pushes back date," 31 Oct. 2018 According to a paper published in 2016 in the journal PNAS, Iron Gates hunter-gatherers were eating domesticated wheat and barley as early as 8,600 years ago, more than 400 years before the Anatolian farmers arrived. Mark Barna, Discover Magazine, "When Farmers and Foragers First Met," 24 Oct. 2018 Central Americans domesticated a second variety that later was picked up by Europeans. Carl Zimmer, New York Times, "All by Itself, the Humble Sweet Potato Colonized the World," 12 Apr. 2018 Dogs, which were domesticated at least 15,000 years ago, came over to North America with humans from Siberia, but perhaps not with the first wave of migration. James Gorman, New York Times, "The Lost Dogs of the Americas," 5 July 2018 Together with another cut tooth from around the same time, the discovery shows that about 2000 years after horses were first domesticated, people were still figuring out the best way to take care of their teeth using basic stone tools. Lizzie Wade, Science | AAAS, "3000-year-old sawn-off tooth may be the earliest evidence of horse dentistry," 2 July 2018 An analysis of the data revealed that the earliest dogs in North America arrived here already domesticated more than 10,000 years ago. Deborah Netburn,, "North America's first dogs were domesticated in Siberia, but their descendants are all gone," 5 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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, "How Ants Became the World’s Best Fungus Farmers," 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, "How Ants Became the World’s Best Fungus Farmers," 12 Apr. 2017

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


circa 1639, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1951, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for domesticate


see domestic entry 1


see domestic entry 1

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Last Updated

1 Dec 2018

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The first known use of domesticate was circa 1639

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More Definitions for domesticate



English Language Learners Definition of domesticate

: to breed or train (an animal) to need and accept the care of human beings : to tame (an animal)

: to grow (a plant) for human use

: to train (someone) to behave in an appropriate way at home (such as by using good manners, being polite, being helpful, etc.)


do·​mes·​ti·​cate | \də-ˈme-sti-ˌkāt \
domesticated; domesticating

Kids Definition of domesticate

: to bring under the control of and make usable by humans Humans domesticated dogs thousands of years ago.

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More from Merriam-Webster on domesticate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with domesticate

Spanish Central: Translation of domesticate

Nglish: Translation of domesticate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of domesticate for Arabic Speakers

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