1 of 2


im·​i·​ta·​tion ˌi-mə-ˈtā-shən How to pronounce imitation (audio)
: an act or instance of imitating
: something produced as a copy : counterfeit
: a literary work designed to reproduce the style of another author
: the repetition by one voice of a melody, phrase, or motive stated earlier in the composition by a different voice
: the quality of an object in possessing some of the nature or attributes of a transcendent idea
: the assumption of behavior observed in other individuals


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
With Matthew Stafford now injury-free and reverting back to his Super Bowl form, and Puka Nacua doing his best Cooper Kupp imitation, our Rams are sure to be in the race for the postseason. Los Angeles Times, 16 Sep. 2023 There are several types of vanilla extract, and the battle between pure vanilla extract and imitation vanilla is never-ending. Molly Allen, Southern Living, 31 Aug. 2023 Each offense authored its Rip Van Winkle imitation, napping through barren first, second and fourth quarters. Ledeai, Journal Sentinel, 19 Aug. 2023 And to our immense relief, the C5 has a full set of proper, round, white-on-black instruments that are neither a weak imitation of an arcade game nor afflicted with any needles that fall as the temperature rises. Csaba Csere, Car and Driver, 7 Sep. 2023 The second roll, wrapped in white soy paper, is filled mostly with Maryland blue crab bound with spicy mayonnaise, but also imitation crab, which the chef slips in for its sweetness. Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, 1 Sep. 2023 As American capitalism took shape and created a middle class, a Brooks Brothers suit—and its imitations—signified belonging therein. Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, The New Republic, 14 Aug. 2023 Some include nori in the bake itself, some top it with raw sushi-grade fish after baking, others make unique vegetarian creations or opt for shrimp, scallops, salmon, canned tuna, or real crab over the imitation stuff. Christina Manian, Rdn, Better Homes & Gardens, 25 July 2023 In the case of both platforms, their popularity dictated imitation; the very thing that doomed the clones. Katherine Alejandra Cross, WIRED, 13 July 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'imitation.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



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

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1818, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near imitation

Cite this Entry

“Imitation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
im·​i·​ta·​tion ˌim-ə-ˈtā-shən How to pronounce imitation (audio)
: an act of imitating
: something produced as a copy


2 of 2 adjective
: resembling something else especially of better quality
imitation pearls
imitation leather

More from Merriam-Webster on imitation

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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