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 for imitate


ape, copy, copycat, emulate, mime, mimic

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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

Ta Shu joined in, doing his best to imitate the tone if not the soaring range of the little cousins, which was completely beyond the human vocal apparatus. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "Read an excerpt from Kim Stanley Robinson’s next book," 18 Oct. 2018 Some children adopt perfectionist thinking and behavior by imitating the same types of perfectionism that their parents display. Jennifer Breheny Wallace, WSJ, "The Perils of the Child Perfectionist," 31 Aug. 2018 Dou sought to imitate life closely in his paintings and to delight the viewer through the deceptive character of their apparent realism. Arthur Wheelock, WSJ, "Well-Worn Life, Frozen In Time," 19 Oct. 2018 The mighty mite who grew up in Puerto Rico imitating the legendary Steve Nash before moving to Florida and drawing charges against top recruit Andrew Wiggins was named the America East Defensive Player of the Year this season. Jonas Shaffer,, "Late to the UMBC bandwagon? Here's what you need to know about the Retrievers," 17 Mar. 2018 Many human researchers want to imitate that adaptation, turning lessons from the natural world into practice in engineering, technology, and architecture. Matthew Francis, Ars Technica, "“Life, uh, finds a way”—Applying lessons from evolution to go to Mars," 26 Jan. 2018 In the bedrooms, the custom headboards were designed to imitate the pointed and arching gables of the surrounding canal houses. Kari Costas, ELLE Decor, "Amsterdam's Pulitzer Hotel Is Canal-Side Luxury At Its Best," 6 Dec. 2016 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

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

9 Dec 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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More from Merriam-Webster on imitate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with imitate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for imitate

Spanish Central: Translation of imitate

Nglish: Translation of imitate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of imitate for Arabic Speakers

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).


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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