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 Both mean striving to emulate or sometimes jealous, but emulous is rare these days, and the adjective emulate is obsolete.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 Mexico’s record in fighting the virus was hardly one for the United States to emulate. New York Times, "Trump’s Focus as the Pandemic Raged: What Would It Mean for Him?," 31 Dec. 2020 Yet women who want to start a company or simply work for a great one often struggle to find success stories to emulate. Susanne Althoff, Fortune, "Men named Jo(h)n have written as many of 2020’s top business books as all women combined," 20 Dec. 2020 Positive role models can provide good examples to emulate. Tribune Content Agency, oregonlive, "Horoscope for Nov. 17, 2020: Gemini, relax, have fun; Cancer, let creativity sprout," 17 Nov. 2020 Unfortunately, the United States is not in a position to emulate New Zealand’s success. Kate Baggaley, Popular Science, "These countries managed to turn COVID-19 around. Here’s how we could do the same.," 17 Nov. 2020 But there is one Woods landmark McIlroy can emulate at the Masters, which was postponed until November because of the coronavirus pandemic. Rob Hodgetts, CNN, "Rory McIlroy bids to join golf's greats with career grand slam at Masters," 8 Nov. 2020 But America’s global image as a model for other democracies to emulate has taken yet another battering, especially among its allies around the globe. Washington Post, "America’s global image takes another battering over the contested election, but world markets resilient," 4 Nov. 2020 Meanwhile, Wangard Partners plans to invest in communities outside Wisconsin which emulate the Madison area's strong job growth — particularly in the tech sector, Wangard said. Tom Daykin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee-area development firm Wangard Partners announces new president and new board of directors," 14 Oct. 2020 The hope is that Flores isn’t the usual Belichick’s disciple, and can find a way to emulate O’Brien’s level of success as a coach. Omar Kelly, sun-sentinel.com, "Kelly: Belichick’s coaching tree hasn’t fared well, will things be different with Flores and the Dolphins? | Commentary," 6 Oct. 2020

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

11 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Emulate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/emulate. Accessed 15 Jan. 2021.

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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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