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

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Other Words from imitate

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

Synonyms for imitate


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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 In his brand new upcoming series #blackAF, art will imitate life; Barris will step in front of the cameras for the first time, turning the cameras on himself and his fictional family to explore the nuance of Black culture on a personal level. Ineye Komonibo,, "Get Your Exclusive First Look At Netflix’s blackAF," 15 Apr. 2020 Eventually, life began imitating art when the couple started dating. Jasmine Grant, Essence, "17 Times Gucci Mane and Keyshia Ka'oir Were The Perfect Pair," 17 Oct. 2019 In a double case of life imitating art, both Trump and Zelensky wound up portraying versions of Zelensky’s character Vasyl Petrovych Holoborodko in real life. Matthew Continetti, National Review, "We Are All Ukrainians," 12 Oct. 2019 Ironically, the response showed life imitating art: China effectively banned all of South Park from its internet. Raisa Bruner, Time, "South Park's 'Apology' to China Is Exactly What You'd Expect," 8 Oct. 2019 In a classic case of life imitating art, Lilli Cooper, the actor who played Sandy Cheeks, stuck around longer than anyone. Sam Walker, WSJ, "Now on Broadway: SpongeBob ChauvinistPants," 11 July 2018 The variance in size is represented using my mouth, which is what my daughter was imitating. Shoshannah Stern, New York Times, "Mothering in a Newly Quiet World," 8 May 2020 The company, founded in 2013, is especially popular with millennials for its mobile-first design, and its no-commission trading policy, which has recently been imitated by conventional brokerages. Jeff John Roberts, Fortune, "Robinhood raises $280 million in push for global expansion," 4 May 2020 Chinese Communist Party tactics have shifted to imitate classic Russian disinformation campaigns, as well as amplify bogus stories from Moscow to pin the blame for coronavirus on the U.S., according to a State Department official and analysts. Fox News, "Chinese propaganda tactics shifting to elevate, amplify Russian disinformation," 1 May 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.

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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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Time Traveler for imitate

Time Traveler

The first known use of imitate was in 1534

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Statistics for imitate

Last Updated

26 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Imitate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jun. 2020.

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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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on imitate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for imitate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with imitate

Spanish Central: Translation of imitate

Nglish: Translation of imitate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of imitate for Arabic Speakers

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