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 Both mean striving to emulate or sometimes jealous, but emulous is rare these days, and the adjective emulate is obsolete.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 Visitors to Hawaii in the 1930s were invariably wealthy, and before long, aloha shirts were being sold by celebrities whom everyday Americans sought to emulate. Teddy Brokaw, Smithsonian Magazine, "The History of the Hawaiian Shirt," 16 Apr. 2020 The original guidelines were among the first of their kind to be released in the United States and were widely cited and emulated by other states. Susie A. Han, STAT, "Allocate ventilators, other Covid-19 resources based on evidence, not political hunches," 17 Mar. 2020 Here are images that showcase the enormous size of the movement, its longevity, and how, in emulating the power of water, the protestors have found strength in flowing movement and unpredictability. Johnny Simon, Quartz, "How Hong Kong’s protest movement endures, in photos," 25 Aug. 2019 That meant Siddhartha had a dozen years to establish a nation-wide presence before the entry of the Starbucks, the model all others emulated. Girish Shahane, Quartz India, "Why Café Coffee Day’s immense popularity didn’t translate into big profits," 1 Aug. 2019 Another, called PersonaChat, teaches the algorithm how to emulate a certain character and add information about that character’s personal background into a dialogue. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, "Facebook creates the most ‘human’ chatbot yet," 29 Apr. 2020 For months, Singapore has served as an exemplar, with its pandemic response praised and emulated around the world. Anchorage Daily News, "States rushing to reopen are probably making a deadly error, experts warn," 23 Apr. 2020 Irene Rinaldi Our Mentor Text series spotlights writing from The Times that students can learn from and emulate. Nicole Daniels, New York Times, "Making a Podcast That Matters: A Guide With Examples From 23 Students," 22 Apr. 2020 The spirit of self-sacrifice that we are now being asked to emulate is a myth. 1843, "Eyam revisited: lessons from a plague village," 16 Apr. 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

Time Traveler

The first known use of emulate was in 1582

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Statistics for emulate

Last Updated

20 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Emulate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/emulate. Accessed 31 May. 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

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