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 Both mean striving to emulate or sometimes jealous, but emulous is rare these days, and the adjective emulate is obsolete.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

Others see it as an appropriately scornful term for a woman who was barely literate, left little for other women to emulate and led the bankrupt Qing dynasty to its downfall in a country whose government remains as male-dominated as ever. New York Times, "Was This Powerful Chinese Empress a Feminist Trailblazer?," 10 July 2018 Demand from the industry’s biggest players has sparked a rush to emulate and feed them houses. Laura Kusisto, WSJ, "House Money: Wall Street Is Raising More Cash Than Ever for Its Rental-Home Gambit," 9 July 2018 The scents are made to emulate and conjure memories in a way that's always literal but creative, and Music Festival is a great addition to the growing collection. Tynan Sinks, Allure, "In Defense of "Festival Beauty," Even for People Who Hate Music Festivals," 25 Apr. 2018 Memorializers lay claim to historical narratives and create the illusion of public memory, invoking select elements of our shared past as shiny baubles to emulate and admire. Michael Patrick Cullinane, Smithsonian, "Why Teddy Roosevelt Is Popular On Both Sides of the Political Aisle," 24 Apr. 2018 Still, these rules would set a new standard for app privacy that the rest of the industry should emulate and build upon. Hiawatha Bray, BostonGlobe.com, "Facebook is just the tip of the iceberg. Thousands of apps can take your data," 30 Mar. 2018 Virtual reality is meant to emulate reality, after all, and in games there’s a certain amount of realism engendered by reaching out and grabbing an object, not adjusting it telepathically. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "Tobii's eye-tracking tech is niche on PCs, but makes virtual reality feel like magic," 30 Mar. 2018 So in this momentous year for Europe, here is your chance to emulate one of the finest reporters of his generation, and launch a career in the exciting world of journalism at two of the most global and prestigious news organisations. The Economist, "Work for usNico Colchester journalism fellowships," 28 Feb. 2018 Three of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history have occurred in the last six months - an escalation Lankford said is driven by shooters' desires to emulate and outdo each other, leading to bigger headlines and more fame. Amy Yurkanin, AL.com, "The fame factor: Alabama expert urges media not to use names of mass shooters," 22 Feb. 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





Statistics for emulate

Last Updated

10 Sep 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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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).


occurring twice a year or every two years

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