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

transitive verb

: to strive to equal or excel
: imitate
especially : to imitate by means of an emulator
: to equal or approach equality with


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em·​u·​late ˈem-yə-lət How to pronounce emulate (audio)
: emulous sense 1b
pricked on by a most emulate prideWilliam 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by a desire to imitate or rival" or sometimes "jealous," but emulous is rare these days and the adjective emulate is obsolete.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...."

Example Sentences

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
Recent Examples on the Web
Nintendo/YouTube Perhaps woken by news of its next premier first-party title already looking really impressive on emulators, Nintendo has moved to take down key tools for emulating and unlocking Switch consoles, including one that lets Switch owners grab keys from their own device. Kevin Purdy, Ars Technica, 8 May 2023 Blemishes, enlarged pores, or dark spots be warned — this powder really emulates the mystical soft focus of an old Hollywood film. Theresa Holland, Peoplemag, 3 May 2023 Those systems then go on to use that to learn how to emulate human creation. Q.ai - Powering A Personal Wealth Movement, Forbes, 20 Feb. 2023 To complement the theme, makeup artist Terry Barber—the director of artistry at MAC Cosmetics—wanted to emulate the soft, feminine essence of a secret garden. Twiggy Jalloh, Vogue, 19 Feb. 2023 Beko’s centerpiece was its HarvestFresh tech, which uses a three-color light system to emulate the sun’s rays. ELLE Decor, 14 Feb. 2023 Ayala: Biden betrays campaign promise by emulating Trump’s assault on asylum seekers Storms will arrive as a consequences of the Biden administration’s new policy, which will swell human misery and close the border to hope. Elaine Ayala, San Antonio Express-News, 15 May 2023 The performance exemplifies a less-is-more acting principle that some other performers in director Allison Arkell Stockman’s staging should emulate. Celia Wren, Washington Post, 4 May 2023 Is Hoffman’s version emulating that or going her own way? Nina Metz, Chicago Tribune, 25 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'emulate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



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

First Known Use


1582, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1602, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of emulate was in 1582


Dictionary Entries Near emulate

Cite this Entry

“Emulate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/emulate. Accessed 7 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


emulated; emulating
: to try to be like or better than

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