im·​bi·​bi·​tion ˌim-bə-ˈbi-shən How to pronounce imbibition (audio)
: the act or action of imbibing
especially : the taking up of fluid by a colloidal system resulting in swelling
imbibitional adjective

Did you know?

Joseph Thomas James Hewlett was a 19th-century English curate and schoolmaster who supplemented his insufficient income by writing novels. In Parsons and Widows, in which the author disguises himself as "the Curate of Mosbury," Hewlett provided us with the first known use of "imbibition" to refer to a person’s drinking, in the phrase "imbibition of a little strong beer." Until then, "imbibition" had been used scientifically to refer to various processes of soaking and absorption, or figuratively, to the taking in of knowledge. (The word is still used scientifically today to refer to the taking up of fluid.) "Imbibition" traces back to Latin imbibere, a verb whose meaning "to drink in" includes absorption of liquids, consuming drink, and appropriating ideas.

Examples of imbibition in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The prohibition also extends to Olympic athletes, who organizers said are welcome to drink alone in their own rooms, but are otherwise barred from imbibition. Victoria Kim, Los Angeles Times, 3 Aug. 2021

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

Word History

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of imbibition was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near imbibition

Cite this Entry

“Imbibition.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2023.

Medical Definition


im·​bi·​bi·​tion ˌim-bə-ˈbish-ən How to pronounce imbibition (audio)
: the action or process of assimilating, taking into solution, or taking in liquid
especially : the taking up of fluid by a colloidal system resulting in swelling
imbibe verb
imbibed; imbibing

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