verb em·u·late \ ˈem-yə-ˌlāt , -yü- \
|Updated on: 16 Jul 2018

Definition of emulate

emulated; emulating
1 a : to strive to equal or excel
b : imitate; especially : to imitate by means of an emulator
2 : to equal or approach equality with

emulate was our Word of the Day on 02/25/2008. Hear the podcast!

Examples of emulate in a Sentence

  1. 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 NorwichVogue9 Sept. 2008
  2. 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. JohnTime27 Oct. 2008
  3. 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 Crime1986
  4. She grew up emulating her sports heroes.

  5. artists emulating the style of their teachers

Recent Examples of emulate from the Web

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.

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 Both mean striving to emulate or sometimes jealous, but emulous is rare these days, and the adjective emulate is obsolete.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. . . ."

Origin and Etymology of emulate

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



adjective em·u·late \ ˈem-yə-lət \

Definition of emulate

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

Origin and Etymology of emulate

borrowed from Latin aemulātus — more at 1emulate

EMULATE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of emulate for English Language Learners

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

EMULATE Defined for Kids


verb em·u·late \ ˈem-yə-ˌlāt \

Definition of emulate for Students

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

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