im·​i·​tate | \ˈi-mə-ˌtāt \
imitated; imitating

Definition of imitate 

transitive verb

1 : to follow as a pattern, model, or example

2 : mimic, counterfeit can imitate his father's booming voice

3 : to be or appear like : resemble

4 : to produce a copy of : reproduce

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Other Words from imitate

imitator \ ˈi-​mə-​ˌtā-​tər \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for imitate


clone, copy, copycat, duplicate, reduplicate, render, replicate, reproduce



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Choose the Right Synonym for imitate

copy, imitate, mimic, ape, mock mean to make something so that it resembles an existing thing. copy suggests duplicating an original as nearly as possible. copied the painting and sold the fake as an original imitate suggests following a model or a pattern but may allow for some variation. imitate a poet's style mimic implies a close copying (as of voice or mannerism) often for fun, ridicule, or lifelike imitation. pupils mimicking their teacher ape may suggest presumptuous, slavish, or inept imitating of a superior original. American fashion designers aped their European colleagues mock usually implies imitation with derision. mocking a vain man's pompous manner

Examples of imitate in a Sentence

Her style has been imitated by many other writers. He's very good at imitating his father's voice. She can imitate the calls of many different birds.
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Recent Examples on the Web

After winning the Tony, Mr. Williams’s life imitated art. Sam Roberts,, "Sammy Williams, Tony winner in ‘A Chorus Line,’ dies at 69," 27 Mar. 2018 Following the global financial crisis, more countries imitated China with inducements for local production. Greg Ip, WSJ, "That Noise You Hear Is the Sound of Globalization Going Into Reverse," 27 June 2018 Biograph films were now the gold standard of movie production, sought out by the exchanges and imitated by moviemakers throughout the industry. Longreads, "When the Movies Went West," 15 May 2018 As the mother sauce traveled through different places and times, ingredients like mushrooms, tamarind and anchovies were deployed to imitate its satisfying umami; Worcestershire sauce and Indonesian kecap manis are both popular descendants. Julia Moskin, New York Times, "Mastering Chinese-Style Ribs at Home," 9 July 2018 Set pieces include a rollicking car chase with Lights behind the wheel, an extended dance-off at the club, and, of course, plenty of hoops action at Rucker Park, choreographed to imitate a typical NBA highlight reel. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Uncle Drew: A Solid Piece of Branded Content," 29 June 2018 The gesture, with thumbs locked together, is widely understood to imitate the two-headed eagle that is featured prominently on Albania's flag. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Switzerland goal scorers could be suspended for 'controversial gestures'," 23 June 2018 Cher got the musical treatment With each queen challenged to imitate a different decade of Cher, perform choreography, and sing live, Cher: The Unauthorized Rusical seemed bound for disaster. Henry Youtt, Billboard, "Top 5 Music Moments From 'RuPaul's Drag Race' Season 10," 19 June 2018 Some manufacturers add tiny yellow flakes to imitate butter. Heloise, Houston Chronicle, "The basics of buttermilk," 12 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'imitate.' 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 imitate

1534, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for imitate

borrowed from Latin imitātus, past participle of imitārī "to follow as a pattern, copy," frequentative derivative of a presumed verb *imā- "make a copy," perhaps going back to Indo-European *h2im-, whence also Hittite hima-, himma- "substitute, replica, toy"

Note: Aside from Hittite, evidence for an etymon *h2im- is lacking. See also etymology and note at emulous.

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Statistics for imitate

Last Updated

11 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for imitate

The first known use of imitate was in 1534

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More Definitions for imitate



English Language Learners Definition of imitate

: to make or do something the same way as (something else)

: to do the same thing as (someone)

: to copy (someone's or something's behavior, sound, appearance, etc.)


im·​i·​tate | \ˈi-mə-ˌtāt \
imitated; imitating

Kids Definition of imitate

1 : to follow as a pattern, model, or example He tried to imitate the older boys.

2 : to be or appear like : resemble The vinyl imitates leather.

3 : to copy exactly : mimic She can imitate bird calls.

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Comments on imitate

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to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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