im·​bue im-ˈbyü How to pronounce imbue (audio)
imbued; imbuing

transitive verb

: endow sense 3
Spanish missions imbue the city with Old World charmScott Pendleton
: to permeate or influence as if by dyeing
the spirit that imbues the new constitution
: to tinge or dye deeply

Did you know?

Imbue Has Old French Roots

Like its synonym infuse, imbue implies the introduction of one thing into another so as to affect it throughout. Someone's voice can be imbued with pride, for example, or a photograph might be imbued with a sense of melancholy. In the past imbue has also been used synonymously with imbrue, an obscure word meaning “to drench or stain,” but the two words are likely unrelated. Imbue comes from the Latin verb imbuere, meaning “to dye, wet, or moisten.” Imbrue has been traced back through Anglo-French and Old French to the Latin verb bibere, meaning “to drink.”

Choose the Right Synonym for imbue

infuse, suffuse, imbue, ingrain, inoculate, leaven mean to introduce one thing into another so as to affect it throughout.

infuse implies a pouring in of something that gives new life or significance.

new members infused enthusiasm into the club

suffuse implies a spreading through of something that gives an unusual color or quality.

a room suffused with light

imbue implies the introduction of a quality that fills and permeates the whole being.

imbue students with intellectual curiosity

ingrain, used only in the passive or past participle, suggests the deep implanting of a quality or trait.

clung to ingrained habits

inoculate implies an imbuing or implanting with a germinal idea and often suggests stealth or subtlety.

an electorate inoculated with dangerous ideas

leaven implies introducing something that enlivens, tempers, or markedly alters the total quality.

a serious play leavened with comic moments

Example Sentences

A feeling of optimism imbues her works. her training at the school for the deaf imbued her with a sense of purpose that she had never known before
Recent Examples on the Web Galadriel and her fellow elves speak the fantasy language of Sindarin, and Clark drew on her familiarity with Welsh to imbue the character’s voice with more strength. Emily Zemler, Los Angeles Times, 23 Nov. 2022 Arches crafted by makeup artist Diane Kendal were designed to imbue a sense of confidence as models strode past the cloister garden in Paris’s Museum of the Armed Forces Health Service. Arden Fanning Andrews, Vogue, 1 Oct. 2022 The pieces imbue architectural forms with organic qualities that reveal the touch of the creative’s hand. Marni Elyse Katz, Robb Report, 12 Dec. 2022 Base and middle notes of cedarwood oils imbue the scent with a rich, deep atmosphere. Dallas News, 30 Nov. 2022 His gentle parenting and ability to both work and have fun with his wife, Linda, imbue the show with a sense of security despite the family’s precarious existence on the poverty line. Adrienne Matei, The Atlantic, 29 Nov. 2022 The project is exploring ways to imbue machines with movements and behaviors that feel more natural to us, and which could help put humans at ease around our mechanical compatriots. Nathaniel Scharping, Discover Magazine, 21 Nov. 2018 Does Conan imbue the character with the appropriate Warhol energy? Joe Reid, Vulture, 14 Nov. 2022 Shelves are stocked with plenty of candles and diffusers that can imbue the scent of pumpkin spice in your home. Anna Kaufman, USA TODAY, 25 Sep. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'imbue.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Latin imbuere

First Known Use

1555, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of imbue was in 1555


Dictionary Entries Near imbue

Cite this Entry

“Imbue.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


im·​bue im-ˈbyü How to pronounce imbue (audio)
imbued; imbuing
: to spread through or influence deeply as if by dyeing
imbued with a deep sense of loyalty
: to tinge or dye deeply
: endow sense 2
the new lighting imbues the room with warmth

More from Merriam-Webster on imbue

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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