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

Other Words from imitate

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

Synonyms for imitate


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Choose the Right Synonym for imitate

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, unoriginal, 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.
Recent Examples on the Web Local Ukrainian warlords rushed to imitate the system, and adopted elements of Polish culture, including Western Christianity and the Polish language. Timothy Snyder, The New Yorker, 28 Apr. 2022 Marshall, pushing to make his show bigger and faster, urged his cast to use wardrobe, gestures and easy-to-imitate lines, because TV fame in the ’70s depended on it. New York Times, 27 Apr. 2022 The Roadeo consisted of a combination of safety and driving skills tests, including a pre-trip inspection, wheelchair securement and a driving obstacle course to imitate the daily challenges of transit service. Baltimore Sun, 12 Apr. 2022 Each tour is framed as a way to meet the artisans, rather than to learn how to imitate their craft. Washington Post, 6 Apr. 2022 By the mid-’60s, other banks were scrambling to imitate what had effectively become a cash-cow. Amanda Foreman, WSJ, 17 Mar. 2022 Yet the way the songs are learned, by trying to imitate a recording or a teacher, is pretty much the same. Karen Hopkin, Scientific American, 3 Mar. 2022 As the household robots doggedly attempt to imitate their humans to win their trust—attempting jokes and grappling with philosophical questions like Zhuangzi's butterfly dream—bonds inevitably begin to form between man and machine. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 1 Mar. 2022 Most animals cannot learn to imitate sounds at all. Betsy Mason, Smithsonian Magazine, 25 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

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

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The first known use of imitate was in 1534

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Last Updated

7 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Imitate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for imitate


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on imitate

Nglish: Translation of imitate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of imitate for Arabic Speakers


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