imitate

verb

im·​i·​tate ˈi-mə-ˌtāt How to pronounce imitate (audio)
imitated; imitating

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
imitator noun

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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, unoriginal, 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

Example Sentences

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.
Recent Examples on the Web Lots of animals can imitate the sound of purring, among them bears and guinea pigs. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 7 Sep. 2022 Olsen’s sober voice-overs don’t attempt to imitate Dalton, but instead skillfully hint at her presence. Washington Post, 1 Oct. 2021 Due to a boom in online payday lending companies in recent years, hackers are able to steal data and more easily imitate real lenders. Katie Wedell, USA TODAY, 1 Sep. 2022 The company’s popular Adamantine black mantel clocks used a patented celluloid veneer made to imitate wood grain, onyx or marble and glued to a wood case. oregonlive, 3 Jan. 2022 Life doesn't exactly imitate art for Paris Jackson these days. Brianne Tracy, Peoplemag, 25 Aug. 2022 The robot, which holds six balls in a revolving cartridge, could also imitate a quarterback’s style including the speed, arc and timing of a throw. Laura Stevens, Washington Post, 15 Aug. 2022 The hyper-realistic then tries to imitate the British musician, showing her best, robotic dance moves. Tomás Mier, Rolling Stone, 12 Aug. 2022 The shoulders, for example, imitate the shapes of snakes in relief while, on the edge of the garment, a colorful border is inspired by coral snakes. Fernanda Pérez Sánchez, Vogue, 8 Aug. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

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.

First Known Use

1534, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of imitate was in 1534

Dictionary Entries Near imitate

Cite this Entry

“Imitate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/imitate. Accessed 3 Oct. 2022.

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Kids Definition

imitate

verb

im·​i·​tate ˈi-mə-ˌtāt How to pronounce imitate (audio)
imitated; imitating
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.

More from Merriam-Webster on imitate

Last Updated: 28 Sep 2022

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