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

Then, depending on the night, a cavernous old Walmart in South Texas begins to echo with the sound of mischievous migrant children imitating the lows of pent-up cattle., "A migrant child’s days in detention included cleaning toilets," 14 July 2018 Maureen Jacobson said kids on bikes would sometimes detour off the West Orange Trail past their house and imitate a crowing rooster, hoping to prompt a response from Milfred, who often obliged. Stephen Hudak,, "No more jarring 'cock-a-doodle-doos,' but beloved rooster Milfred will live on, stuffed by taxidermist," 3 July 2018 So does Naturally 7, as each man is capable of singing and imitating multiple instruments. Chuck Yarborough,, "Vocal play pioneers Naturally 7 create wall of sound with the human voice alone," 8 May 2018 Today, a rising tide of passenger cars imitating SUV status has raised the awareness of new five-door hatchbacks and burly wagon treatments. Mark Maynard,, "2018 Buick Regal TourX: A welcome wagon," 23 Mar. 2018 Rather than imitate the hand-me-down Hollywood dinosaurs of yore, the newest Jurassic World should learn from the last quarter century’s most astounding advancements in dinosaur science. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "Five Ways Real Science Would Make the New Jurassic World So Much Better," 12 June 2018 Castle Angelo, built in 1830 by a Frenchman imitating a French chateau, is the white castle looming over the Patapsco River easily seen when driving west across the bridge. Janet Kusterer, Howard County Times, "Celebrate Earth Day on Main Street with Spring Fest [Mostly Main Street]," 5 Apr. 2018 The bird heard her dogs barking and decided to imitate them. Josh Magness, miamiherald, "Woman faces a fine for barking dogs — but argues the ruckus is coming from her parrot | Miami Herald," 4 Apr. 2018 But sometimes, life imitates art: In September 2017, Emilia bleached her hair, immediately drawing comparisons to her character, and has been rocking the color ever since. Avery Matera, Teen Vogue, "Kit Harington Wants to Get a Haircut After Game of Thrones," 21 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

16 Sep 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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