em·​u·​late | \ˈem-yə-ˌlāt, -yü-\
emulated; emulating

Definition of emulate 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to strive to equal or excel

b : imitate especially : to imitate by means of an emulator

2 : to equal or approach equality with


em·​u·​late | \ˈem-yə-lət \

Definition of emulate (Entry 2 of 2)


: emulous sense 1b pricked on by a most emulate pride— William Shakespeare

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Did You Know?


If imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery, to paraphrase Charles C. Colton (circa 1780-1832), then past speakers of English clearly had a great admiration for the Latin language. The verb emulate joined the ranks of Latin-derived English terms in 1582. It comes from aemulus, a Latin term for rivaling or envious. Two related adjectives - emulate and emulous - appeared around the same time as the verb emulate. Both mean striving to emulate or sometimes jealous, but emulous is rare these days, and the adjective emulate is obsolete. The latter did have a brief moment of glory, however, when Shakespeare used it in Hamlet:

"Our last king,
Whose image even but now appear'd to us,
Was, as you know, by Fortinbras of Norway,
Thereto prick'd on by a most emulate pride,
Dar'd to the combat. . . ."

Examples of emulate in a Sentence


If you are talking to someone younger, do not condescend. If you are talking to someone older, back up feelings with facts and never be in such a rush to make your point that you forget the art of listening. And please, no one try to emulate the histrionic, discursive style of any talking heads you see on television. — William Norwich, Vogue, 9 Sept. 2008 Although some schools are postponing new projects because of the faltering economy, others are forging ahead with plans to emulate freshman programs that have long existed at some of the nation's oldest colleges. — Jeninne Lee-St. John, Time, 27 Oct. 2008 I started out emulating Chandler in that first book, maybe the first book and a half, because I was in my novitiate, and whenever I wasn't clear on what to do I would actively think about Chandler and what Marlow would have done. — Robert B. Parker et al., Colloquium on Crime, 1986 She grew up emulating her sports heroes. artists emulating the style of their teachers
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Psychology professor Michelle Drouin wanted to know how people would react if a chatbot could emulate a human. David Pierson, latimes.com, "Should people know they're talking to an algorithm? After a controversial debut, Google now says yes," 10 May 2018 Like earlier PCs powered by Snapdragon chips, the C630 runs Windows 10 S—Microsoft’s OS that’s tuned for long battery life and runs apps without the performance penalties of emulating apps written for X86 chips. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Lenovo's Yoga C630 promises 25 hours on battery using Qualcomm's next-gen Snapdragon 850," 30 Aug. 2018 The buyers are long-term investors with the goal of growing Bolsas y Mercados Argentinos to emulate the success of Brazil’s B3 SA, according to four people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Bloomberg.com, "Brazil Hedge Funds Take Stake in Operator of Argentina's Stock Exchange," 8 Mar. 2018 Project xCloud, like the other game-streaming services mentioned earlier, emulates games on a server, then streams it to your devices over the Internet. Brad Chacos, PCWorld, "Microsoft's Project xCloud service will stream Xbox games to PCs, tablets, and phones," 8 Oct. 2018 Apparently, Amal was immediately smitten with the style of the ultra-exclusive, members-only club (which Meghan introduced her to, as well) and wanted to emulate the look in her and George's riverside home in Sonning-on-Thames, in England. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Meghan Markle Is Reportedly Helping Amal Clooney Decorate Her England Home," 9 Sep. 2018 French President Emmanuel Macron successfully wooed his American counterpart with deferential displays of French grandeur, including a Bastille Day parade in Paris last year that Trump now hopes to emulate in Washington. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "The World’s Most Powerful Rube," 4 June 2018 Cable distributors will only feel a tighter squeeze with HBO and Disney preparing to emulate Netflix’s end-run around them. David Z. Morris, Fortune, "Netflix Is Expected to Spend up to $13 Billion on Original Programming This Year," 8 July 2018 The Miers reference is telling, since those trying to derail Kavanaugh hope to emulate the successful 2005 conservative campaign to force her withdrawal by Bush, leading to the deeply satisfying-to-conservatives substitution of Samuel Alito. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "Kavanaugh Remains SCOTUS Front-runner Despite Right-Wing Backlash," 5 July 2018

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


1582, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1602, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for emulate


borrowed from Latin aemulātus, past participle of aemulārī "to vie with, rival, imitate," derivative of aemulus "rivaling, emulous"


borrowed from Latin aemulātus — more at emulate entry 1

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Dictionary Entries near emulate


emu apple

emu bush





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Last Updated

17 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for emulate

The first known use of emulate was in 1582

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More Definitions for emulate



English Language Learners Definition of emulate

: to try to be like (someone or something you admire)


em·​u·​late | \ˈem-yə-ˌlāt \
emulated; emulating

Kids Definition of emulate

: to try hard to be like or do better than : imitate She grew up emulating her sports heroes.

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More from Merriam-Webster on emulate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with emulate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for emulate

Spanish Central: Translation of emulate

Nglish: Translation of emulate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of emulate for Arabic Speakers

Comments on emulate

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


a knickknack or trinket

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