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 Both mean striving to emulate or sometimes jealous, but emulous is rare these days, and the adjective emulate is obsolete.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 And the most famous and successful Survivor alliance ever was Black Widow Brigade from Survivor: Micronesia which players ever since have talked about wanting to emulate. Dalton Ross, EW.com, "Survivor host Jeff Probst reacts to Kellee's Tribal Council comments," 7 Nov. 2019 Then in the late 1980s and early 90s, the baby hair trend reemerged amongst singers and rappers, trickling down to the community, with women wanting to emulate their favorite artists. Shalwah Evans, Essence, "Baby Tress and Black Girls Texting Talk Edge Styling And Appropriation," 5 Nov. 2019 Through her hair, Sansa emulated women in her life, from her mother Catelyn's simple yet beautiful braids to the more elaborate styles worn by Cersei during the early seasons in King's Landing. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "The Hidden Message in Sansa Stark’s Hairstyle During the Game of Thrones Finale," 20 May 2019 But after a year at Newark College of Rutgers University, Roth emulated an early literary hero, James Joyce, and fled his hometown. Douglas Perry, OregonLive.com, "Woodburn teenager arrested after allegedly making school-shooting threats on Snapchat," 23 May 2018 Rickne says that the intergenerational transmission theory—the social learning that explains why children tend to emulate their parents’ behaviors and values—is one explanation for this. Josie Cox, Quartz, "Women still sacrifice personal happiness for professional brilliance," 11 Nov. 2019 Far-right political groups across Europe emulate Russia’s disinformation tactics and its themes. The Economist, "How women are singled out for vile abuse for political ends," 7 Nov. 2019 Fellows will train and further develop 12 critical skills that the youth movement has discovered and believes all leaders must emulate. Sergio Carmona, sun-sentinel.com, "Bal Harbour couple donates $5 million to Orthodox Union’s youth movement," 8 Oct. 2019 Indeed, the Meahers should emulate descendants of Issac Franklin, a slave-trader who kept Africans captive in what is now known as the Freedom House Museum in Alexandria, VA, before selling them to slaveholders who took them South . Roy S. Johnson | Rjohnson@al.com, al, "Johnson: Why do slave-ship Clotilda owner’s descendants still cower in silence?," 8 Oct. 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

3 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Emulate.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/emulates. Accessed 5 December 2019.

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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

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