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

Definition of imbue

transitive verb

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

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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

Imbue Has Old French Roots

Like its synonym infuse, imbue implies the introduction of one thing into another so as to affect it throughout. A nation 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 etymologists do not think the two words are related. Imbue derives 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."

Examples of imbue in a Sentence

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 The sheer ingenuity of Ms Ellmann’s wordplay, the fabulous profusion of her recipes, catalogues and inventories, from a freezer’s contents to confectionery brands, imbue every passage with fun as well as a sardonic poetry. The Economist, "“Ducks, Newburyport” is an ingenious feat of storytelling," 24 Oct. 2019 Dior creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri has imbued her collections with feminist ideology that runs counter to Trump’s degrading commentary about women. Robin Givhan, Washington Post, "Louis Vuitton welcomed Trump to the opening of its new factory. And yes, it was odd.," 18 Oct. 2019 The long-frozen mammoth tusks — combined with Chinese demand for ivory — have imbued teetering local economies with a strike-it-rich ethos., "You're using a browser set to private or incognito mode.," 6 Oct. 2019 The long-frozen mammoth tusks - combined with Chinese demand for ivory - have imbued teetering local economies with a strike-it-rich ethos. oregonlive, "In fast-thawing Siberia, radical climate change is warping the Earth beneath the feet of millions," 5 Oct. 2019 The long-frozen mammoth tusks - combined with Chinese demand for ivory - have imbued teetering local economies with a strike-it-rich ethos. Anton Troianovski, Chris Mooney, Anchorage Daily News, "In fast-thawing Siberia, radical climate change is warping the earth beneath the feet of millions," 4 Oct. 2019 Landes thoroughly imbues his savage fable with animalistic playfulness that never permits forgetting its gun-throttling troop is coming of age in isolation. Carlos Aguilar, Los Angeles Times, "Review: Heaven, Earth and war collide in Alejandro Landes’ visceral ‘Monos’," 12 Sep. 2019 For all the histrionics, though, Simone isn’t heartless; Liu imbues her character with pathos and a dash of humor. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, "The Cheap Thrills of The Kitchen and Why Women Kill," 19 Aug. 2019 For the region’s residents, police checkpoints and surveillance cameras equipped with facial recognition technology have imbued life with a corrosive fear of acting out of turn. Raymond Zhong, New York Times, "China Snares Tourists’ Phones in Surveillance Dragnet by Adding Secret App," 2 July 2019

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.

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First Known Use of imbue

1555, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for imbue

Latin imbuere

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Last Updated

16 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for imbue

The first known use of imbue was in 1555

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How to pronounce imbue (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of imbue

: to cause (someone or something) to be deeply affected by a feeling or to have a certain quality

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More from Merriam-Webster on imbue

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for imbue

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with imbue

Spanish Central: Translation of imbue

Nglish: Translation of imbue for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of imbue for Arabic Speakers

Comments on imbue

What made you want to look up imbue? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


meddlesome, informal, or unofficial

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