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

View this post on Instagram Life | imitates | art A post shared by Zoë Kravitz (@zoeisabellakravitz) on Oct 28, 2018 at 4:58pm PDT Having actual Lenny Kravitz as your dad might seem like a total dream, but Zoë says otherwise. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Zoë Kravitz Says Having Such Cool Parents Left Her Feeling "Intimidated" While Growing Up," 26 Nov. 2018 This week, an account imitating The Verge was making the same pitch in Facebook comments. Colin Lecher, The Verge, "Facebook imposters are trying to swindle users out of bitcoin," 18 Dec. 2018 The photos are reminiscent of the Yeezy Season 6 campaign, where celebrities and influencers imitated paparazzi photos of Kim wearing Kanye's latest collection. Isabel Greenberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kim Kardashian Stars in the Latest Yeezy Campaign Nearly-Nude," 14 Aug. 2018 But the model that has been perfected at Apple is risky and imitated poorly by many American corporations. Recode Staff, Recode, "Recode Daily: Has Snapchat peaked? And understanding Alex Jones’ platform bans," 7 Aug. 2018 The sleek rectangle has a white bezel to imitate an art frame, three slim legs styled like a tripod, and defaults to an artwork display when not in use. Sunset, "Your Next TV Could Double As Art," 22 Jan. 2018 By Email Thieves can send out spam with similar requests or demands that imitates your utilities' logos and color schemes. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "Scary Utility Scams Are Spreading Across the Country," 16 Nov. 2018 All of them house internal speakers that imitate the sounds of the insect. Grace Dickinson,, "17 gigantic bugs have crawled into the Academy of Natural Sciences for 'Xtreme Bugs' exhibit," 22 May 2018 But that doesn't mean that art doesn't imitate life in at least some ways, and now Lili’s opening up to Ocean Drive about Betty’s dark side, her own anxiety, and how the Bulldog crew leans on Cole Sprouse for support navigating the world of fame. Kara Nesvig, Teen Vogue, "Lili Reinhart Says Cole Sprouse Helps the "Riverdale" Cast Navigate Fame," 1 Feb. 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

18 Feb 2019

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

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