em·​u·​late | \ ˈem-yə-ˌlāt How to pronounce emulate (audio) , -yü- \
emulated; emulating

Essential Meaning of emulate

: to try to be like (someone or something you admire) She grew up emulating her sports heroes. artists emulating the style of their teachers

Full 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 How to pronounce emulate (audio) \

Definition of emulate (Entry 2 of 2)

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

Did you know?

If imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery, 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 the 16th century. It comes from aemulus, a Latin term for "rivaling" or "envious." Two related adjectives—emulate and emulous—appeared within a half-century of the verb emulate. Both mean "striving to emulate; marked by a desire to imitate or rival" or sometimes "jealous," but emulous is rare these days and the adjective emulate is obsolete.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 William 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

Verb 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 Workhuman has a better strategy with social recognition and the random acts of kindness shown with small frequent financial tips reinforcing those values and being inspired to emulate them. Jack Kelly, Forbes, 5 Jan. 2022 Hudson’s is higher and clearer, Franklin’s bluesier and grittier, and Hudson wanted to emulate Franklin without copying her. New York Times, 10 Aug. 2021 The 19-year-old Smith, who joined Riptide at age 13, is known for wearing pink Crocs, swim caps and nail polish at competitions, and young fans from the club wanted to emulate their idol. Christina Long, Star Tribune, 24 July 2021 Kim's long black coat and hairstyle, reminiscent of his late grandfather Kim Il Sung, were viewed as a superficial effort to emulate the authority of his forebears. Paula Hancocks And Yoonjung Seo, CNN, 16 Dec. 2021 The best example to emulate may be the Technical Advisory Group formed by project partners in St. Louis to achieve agreement among specialists in city, state, and federal agencies on the renovation of Gateway Arch National Park. Steven Litt, cleveland, 22 Aug. 2021 Cassie is the first bipedal robot to use machine learning to control a running gait on outdoor terrain, showcasing a somewhat eerie ability to emulate humankind. Rachel Cormack, Robb Report, 28 July 2021 Díaz-Canel’s walk through San Antonio de los Baños on July 11th seemed a clear attempt to emulate Fidel’s iconic 1994 Malecón appearance, and his follow-up television appearance appeared similarly intended to project the power of command. Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker, 22 July 2021 The scruffy Gragson left the razor behind for the playoffs as the Golden Knights hockey fan tried to emulate the superstitious playoffs beards sported in the NHL. Mark Heim | Mheim@al.com, al, 6 Nov. 2021

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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Time Traveler for emulate

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The first known use of emulate was in 1582

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Last Updated

23 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Emulate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/emulate. Accessed 23 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for emulate


em·​u·​late | \ ˈem-yə-ˌlāt How to pronounce emulate (audio) \
emulated; emulating

Kids Definition of emulate

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

More from Merriam-Webster on emulate

Nglish: Translation of emulate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of emulate for Arabic Speakers


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