emer·​gent | \ i-ˈmər-jənt How to pronounce emergent (audio) \

Definition of emergent

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : arising unexpectedly
b : calling for prompt action : urgent emergent danger
2a : rising out of or as if out of a fluid emergent coastal islands
b : rooted in shallow water and having most of its vegetative growth above water an emergent plant
3 : arising as a natural or logical consequence
4 : newly formed or prominent emergent nations



Definition of emergent (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something emergent
2a : a tree that rises above the surrounding forest
b : an emergent plant

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Examples of emergent in a Sentence


since it was not seen as an emergent problem, it was continually put off

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

For Randall, the smarticles’ behavior resembled emergent phenomena modeled by computer scientists in many other contexts. Kevin Hartnett, Scientific American, "“Smarticle” Robot Swarms Turn Random Behavior into Collective Intelligence," 18 Feb. 2018 In the top emergent layer, trees as tall as 200 feet (60 meters) grow far apart and tall, their branches reaching above the canopy. Christina Nunez, National Geographic, "Rainforests, explained," 15 May 2019 During that time, they’ll be asked to respond to key policy statements and claims now shaping the emergent Democratic climate agenda. Emily Atkin, The New Republic, "Why We’re Challenging the 2020 Democrats to a Climate Summit," 11 July 2019 The industry’s expansion has carried with it a promise of diverse, female founders who might finally wield equal power in an emergent space. Ella Riley-adams, Vogue, "At Portland’s “Weed Prom,” Women Gathered to Celebrate and Strategize," 11 July 2019 Ebony Shelton, director of the Office of Financial Planning, said there is also more money for additional law enforcement, personnel in the Health and Human Services department, emergent public health issues and public assistance. Ramona Sentinel, "County supervisors approve $6.25 billion budget," 9 July 2019 Tilting the gender balance in favor of females would, the emergent Svengali assumed, increase intergroup tension, thereby heightening the potential for violence. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, "‘The Raft’ Review: Navigating a Sea of False Assumptions," 13 June 2019 Those in attendance wrestled with several questions: the distinction between past, present and future; why time appears to move in only one direction; and whether time is fundamental or emergent. Quanta Magazine, "A Debate Over the Physics of Time," 19 July 2016 But the other view — Levine’s emergent-systems view — doesn’t allow for such a rosy assessment. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Stop calling Facebook’s effort to fix itself an “arms race”," 14 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

By then the pre-emergent will be gone from the soil. Neil Sperry, San Antonio Express-News, "No garden invader is more difficult to eliminate than bamboo," 15 June 2018 Apply a pre-emergent, like Preen, around the bushes to keep down the weeds until mulch is reapplied in late May. Hot temperatures will require a regular watering program and Kentucky rain is never enough. Janet Miller, The Courier-Journal, "Roses are easy - if done right. Here are foolproof tips to follow for your Kentucky garden," 23 Feb. 2018

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


1593, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1620, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for emergent


Middle English, from Latin emergent-, emergens, present participle of emergere

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Statistics for emergent

Last Updated

13 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for emergent

The first known use of emergent was in 1593

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More Definitions for emergent


emer·​gent | \ i-ˈmər-jənt How to pronounce emergent (audio) \

Medical Definition of emergent

: calling for prompt or urgent action an emergent condition in a hemophiliac

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More from Merriam-Webster on emergent

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with emergent

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for emergent

Spanish Central: Translation of emergent

Nglish: Translation of emergent for Spanish Speakers

Comments on emergent

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


marked by turns or indirection

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