im·​i·​tate | \ ˈi-mə-ˌtāt How to pronounce imitate (audio) \
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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from imitate

imitator \ ˈi-​mə-​ˌtā-​tər How to pronounce imitator (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for imitate


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Art may imitate life, but life right now is pretty awful. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, "Are we ready for TV shows about COVID like HBO's 'Coastal Elites'? Absolutely not.," 11 Sep. 2020 Jews, Wagner writes, can never share in the genius of the German people, only imitate it badly—the way the villain of The Mastersingers, Sixtus Beckmesser, incompetently imitates Walther’s song. Adam Kirsch, The New Republic, "The Problem With Redemption for Wagner," 11 Sep. 2020 Try different seams and pressure points, Seaver instructed, don’t just imitate someone famous. Tyler Kepner, New York Times, "‘He Was the Perfect Pro’: Tom Seaver’s Senses Made Him a Baseball Great," 3 Sep. 2020 To imitate this laissez-faire approach, don't worry too much about decorating around a specific style. Jessica Bennett, Better Homes & Gardens, "7 Simple Ways to Add French Style to Your Home," 31 Aug. 2020 Trying to imitate Fitzgerald's amazing scat singing will get your own tongues into a twist. Marisa Lascala, Good Housekeeping, "The 14 Best Songs for Kids by Diverse Artists (Chosen by Children's Musicians)," 21 Aug. 2020 But Cartwright and his co-authors found that a computer model of stingless bees could imitate their natural counterparts by following two simple rules. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "Scientists Crack the Mathematical Mystery of Stingless Bees’ Spiral Honeycombs," 28 July 2020 Woe be the comedian these days who can’t imitate President Trump. Diane Bell Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: The comedian who lost his smile," 17 Aug. 2020 Some experts wonder if drugmakers in other countries could come under political pressure to imitate Moscow’s regulatory corner cutting in the hopes of producing a vaccine more quickly. Wsj Noted., WSJ, "Why Health Experts Are Worried About Russia’s Covid-19 Vaccine," 12 Aug. 2020

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.

See More

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.

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about imitate

Time Traveler for imitate

Time Traveler

The first known use of imitate was in 1534

See more words from the same year

Statistics for imitate

Last Updated

15 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Imitate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for imitate


How to pronounce imitate (audio)

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 How to pronounce imitate (audio) \
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.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on imitate

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!