im·​i·​ta·​tive ˈi-mə-ˌtā-tiv How to pronounce imitative (audio)
 especially British  -tə-tiv
: marked by imitation
acting is an imitative art
: reproducing or representing a natural sound : onomatopoeic
"hiss" is an imitative word
: exhibiting mimicry
: inclined to imitate
: imitating something superior : counterfeit
imitatively adverb
imitativeness noun

Example Sentences

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 Yes, with endless imitative ramifications for minimalist interior design. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, 26 Sep. 2022 That indifference comes in different shades -- genuine, imitative or self-cultivated. Andrei Kolesnikov, CNN, 21 Sep. 2022 Late Mozart reveals Bach’s influence, and the brief but vital episodes of imitative counterpoint in the first movement were rendered with clarity and momentum. Lukas Schulze, San Diego Union-Tribune, 13 June 2022 Our children see this, and learn to imitate it; for man is an imitative animal. Andrew Delbanco, The New York Review of Books, 8 June 2022 In other words, this vehicle for producer-star Rebel Wilson isn’t organic even as a genre homage; its Frankensteinian assemblage always feels more imitative than inspired. Dennis Harvey, Variety, 13 May 2022 The imitative relationship between life and art is at the core of Small’s recovery, though in a more literal way. Washington Post, 8 Apr. 2022 But those efforts, like so many film adaptations before them, distill essentially only the basic ingredients of their stage sources — plot, character, music — and as a result feel more imitative than transformative. Washington Post, 18 Mar. 2022 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 See More

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.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1584, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of imitative was in 1584

Dictionary Entries Near imitative

Cite this Entry

“Imitative.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



im·​i·​ta·​tive ˈim-ə-ˌtāt-iv How to pronounce imitative (audio)
: involving imitation
: given to imitating
: imitating something better
imitatively adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on imitative

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