im·​i·​ta·​tive | \ ˈi-mə-ˌtā-tiv How to pronounce imitative (audio) , especially British -tə-tiv \

Definition of imitative

1a : marked by imitation acting is an imitative art
b : reproducing or representing a natural sound : onomatopoeic "hiss" is an imitative word
c : exhibiting mimicry
2 : inclined to imitate
3 : imitating something superior : counterfeit

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Other Words from imitative

imitatively adverb
imitativeness noun

Examples of imitative in a Sentence

The architecture is imitative of a Japanese temple. your writing style tends to be imitative of whichever author you've recently read
Recent Examples on the Web So central to our culture and so often mocked — made the emblem of television at its least imaginative and most imitative, at its tritest and tiredest. Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times, 1 Apr. 2021 The consequences for Black communities of this imitative gesture were devastating. Fintan O’toole, The New York Review of Books, 2 Mar. 2021 Her singing sounds very much like Holiday but retains its own personality, rather than feeling imitative. Chris Hewitt, Star Tribune, 25 Feb. 2021 Her presence is a series of postures and imitative voice techniques that serve only to further etch the image of junkie mess into this portrait of a great artist who changed an art form. Hilton Als, The New Yorker, 22 Feb. 2021 He was known for designing houses for prominent clients that were both elaborate and understated and evocative of older structures without being directly imitative of them. Paul Goldberger, New York Times, 10 May 2020 The Beastie Boys are a partly imitative act, and that’s what feels both so genius and so white about them—a combination of total confidence and ironic distance. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, 24 Apr. 2020 Some studied themselves in the wall-to-wall mirrors; others fixed their gaze on Jones, whose eyes moved from body to body as the dancers executed an arm-swinging gesture imitative of immature gawkiness. Peter Marks, Washington Post, 30 Oct. 2019 Denney then chose Stop Predatory Gambling Idaho to argue against the instant racing imitative. Kimberlee Kruesi, The Seattle Times, 24 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'imitative.' 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 imitative

1584, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for imitative

borrowed from Late Latin imitātīvus, from Latin imitātus, past participle of imitārī "to follow as a pattern, imitate" + -īvus -ive

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Time Traveler for imitative

Time Traveler

The first known use of imitative was in 1584

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Dictionary Entries Near imitative

imitation leather


imitative magic

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Cite this Entry

“Imitative.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for imitative



English Language Learners Definition of imitative

: made or done to be like something or someone else


im·​i·​ta·​tive | \ ˈi-mə-ˌtā-tiv How to pronounce imitative (audio) \

Kids Definition of imitative

: made or done to be like something or someone else imitative sounds

More from Merriam-Webster on imitative

Nglish: Translation of imitative for Spanish Speakers


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