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

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Other Words from imitate

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

Synonyms for imitate


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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, slavish, 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Those treatments imitate kidney function to prolong the life of a person with late-stage kidney disease. Dustin Gardiner,, "Proposition 23 would require on-site doctors in kidney dialysis clinics," 7 Oct. 2020 The band was credited with galvanizing a glam-rock boom, with acts seeking to imitate Mr. Van Halen’s quicksilver guitar solos and Roth’s exuberant stage antics, which included a samurai-sword dance and a split-kicking leap from the drum riser. Washington Post, "Eddie Van Halen, guitar virtuoso with a shimmering sound, dies at 65," 6 Oct. 2020 These aren’t the governments the U.S. should want to imitate. Andy Kessler, WSJ, "TikTok Meets the Meddling Feds," 4 Oct. 2020 To imitate DeChambeau, your first act is to gain 50 pounds of muscle over a 10-month period. Bruce Jenkins,, "U.S. Open champion DeChambeau blazes a new path, but will anyone follow?," 22 Sep. 2020 Art doesn’t just imitate life; sometimes art defines it. Joseph P. Williams Jr. Special To The Star Tribune, Star Tribune, "REVIEW: 'Black in the Middle,' edited by Terrion L. Williamson," 18 Sep. 2020 Art may imitate life, but life right now is pretty awful. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, "Are we ready for TV shows about COVID like HBO's 'Coastal Elites'? Absolutely not.," 11 Sep. 2020 Jews, Wagner writes, can never share in the genius of the German people, only imitate it badly—the way the villain of The Mastersingers, Sixtus Beckmesser, incompetently imitates Walther’s song. Adam Kirsch, The New Republic, "The Problem With Redemption for Wagner," 11 Sep. 2020 Try different seams and pressure points, Seaver instructed, don’t just imitate someone famous. Tyler Kepner, New York Times, "‘He Was the Perfect Pro’: Tom Seaver’s Senses Made Him a Baseball Great," 3 Sep. 2020

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.

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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

Time Traveler

The first known use of imitate was in 1534

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Statistics for imitate

Last Updated

21 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Imitate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for imitate


How to pronounce imitate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of imitate

: to make or do something the same way as (something else)
: to do the same thing as (someone)
: to copy (someone's or something's behavior, sound, appearance, etc.)


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.

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