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

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 Both mean striving to emulate or sometimes jealous, but emulous is rare these days, and the adjective emulate is obsolete.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

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 But as Harden made his signature hand swipe a key part of his MVP arsenal, players throughout the league started to emulate him. Connor Letourneau, SFChronicle.com, "Warriors’ Steve Kerr takes issue with refs going ‘overboard’ with foul calls," 31 Dec. 2019 The Venetians are deeply proud of their spectacular home and way of life, and this is emulated through their hospitality and willingness to impart their love of the city to those who visit. Hannah Seligson, Town & Country, "The Best Room At... The Hotel Excelsior," 22 Oct. 2019 Thames, who also transferred from Washington State, did not win postseason newcomer of the year, but Flynn hopes to emulate him in three other ways. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Aztecs picked 2nd in Mountain West preseason basketball poll," 15 Oct. 2019 Which is pretty incredible, not just because Cristiano Ronaldo exists, but also because – since his breakout all those years ago – the number of players that have attempted to emulate him has been staggering. SI.com, "The 20 Best Footballers of the Decade," 14 Oct. 2019 Kaepernick quickly inspired some other NFL players - as well as athletes in other sports and at other levels of football - to emulate his example, and Trump expanded his criticisms to include the likes of Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch. Des Bieler, chicagotribune.com, "Trump praises NASCAR for its lack of protests during national anthem," 22 May 2018 When another brother left the compound to attend college, Ms Westover was inspired to emulate him. The Economist, "The art of survivalA riveting memoir of a brutal upbringing," 15 Feb. 2018 His values were deeply rooted and provide a model to be emulated by us all. Paul Gores, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Baird's Fred Kasten remembered for impact on the company and community," 17 Dec. 2019 Here it may be emulated not the U.S. president, but Russian diplomats who have used embassy Twitter accounts to mock and belittle Western democracies. Adam Taylor, Washington Post, "China’s Foreign Ministry adopts a Trumpian tone on its new Twitter account — with insults, typos, ALL-CAPS and emoji," 5 Dec. 2019

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of emulate was in 1582

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Last Updated

15 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Emulate.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/emulate. Accessed 19 January 2020.

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More Definitions for emulate


How to pronounce emulate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of emulate

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


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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on emulate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for emulate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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).


to insert between existing elements

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