im·​i·​ta·​tion | \ ˌi-mə-ˈtā-shən How to pronounce imitation (audio) \

Definition of imitation

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an act or instance of imitating
2 : something produced as a copy : counterfeit
3 : a literary work designed to reproduce the style of another author
4 : the repetition by one voice of a melody, phrase, or motive stated earlier in the composition by a different voice
5 : the quality of an object in possessing some of the nature or attributes of a transcendent idea
6 : the assumption of behavior observed in other individuals



Definition of imitation (Entry 2 of 2)

: resembling something else that is usually genuine and of better quality : not real imitation leather

Examples of imitation in a Sentence

Noun Children learn by imitation of adults. The restaurant was designed in imitation of a Japanese temple. He did a hilarious imitation of his father. The real diamonds are in a museum. These are just imitations. Adjective the stage production uses only imitation diamonds, as real gems would be prohibitively expensive
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Minkyu Kim could be red blood cells’ greatest admirer. Melina Walling, The Arizona Republic, 22 Apr. 2022 The saying goes that imitation is the highest form of flattery. Outside Online, 15 Mar. 2021 And Mike Pence did a convincing imitation of a weary husband patiently waiting for his tipsy wife to stop talking. Nr Editors, National Review, 31 Mar. 2022 Adrian Phillips did an admirable Patrick Chung imitation with 109 tackles., 8 Sep. 2021 But by being so on the nose with its imitation, SNL failed to say anything particularly meaningful. Amanda Wicks, The Atlantic, 17 Apr. 2022 Watching the Bengals do their imitation of the 2020 Browns, the team that came from nowhere to make the playoffs. Terry Pluto, cleveland, 2 Jan. 2022 This week Murphy is back doing her best Anthony Comstock imitation in a political ad sponsored by Youngkin. Washington Post, 27 Oct. 2021 Anthopoulos did his best Property Brothers imitation by rebuilding the team’s rickety outfield in the last two weeks of July. Anthony Stitt, Forbes, 25 Oct. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'imitation.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of imitation


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1818, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for imitation


Middle English ymytacyoun "emulation," borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French imitacion, borrowed from Latin imitātiōn-, imitātiō "action of copying, copy," from imitārī "to follow as a pattern, imitate" + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of verbal action


from attributive use of imitation entry 1

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Time Traveler for imitation

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The first known use of imitation was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near imitation

imitatio Christi



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Last Updated

20 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Imitation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for imitation


im·​i·​ta·​tion | \ ˌi-mə-ˈtā-shən How to pronounce imitation (audio) \

Kids Definition of imitation

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the act of copying someone or something She does great imitations of celebrities.
2 : copy entry 1 sense 1 These diamonds are just imitations.



Kids Definition of imitation (Entry 2 of 2)

: made to look like something else and especially something valuable imitation pearls

More from Merriam-Webster on imitation

Nglish: Translation of imitation for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of imitation for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about imitation


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