in·​cul·​cate in-ˈkəl-ˌkāt How to pronounce inculcate (audio) ˈin-(ˌ) How to pronounce inculcate (audio)
inculcated; inculcating

transitive verb

: to teach and impress by frequent repetitions or admonitions
inculcation noun
in-ˈkəl-ˌkā-tər How to pronounce inculcate (audio)

Did you know?

Inculcate derives from the past participle of the Latin verb inculcare, meaning "to tread on." In Latin, inculcare possesses both literal and figurative meanings, referring to either the act of walking over something or to that of impressing something upon the mind, often by way of steady repetition. It is the figurative sense that survives with inculcate, which was first used in English in the 16th century. Inculcare was formed in Latin by combining the prefix in- with calcare, meaning "to trample," and ultimately derives from the noun calx, "heel."

Choose the Right Synonym for inculcate

implant, inculcate, instill, inseminate, infix mean to introduce into the mind.

implant implies teaching that makes for permanence of what is taught.

implanted a love of reading in her students

inculcate implies persistent or repeated efforts to impress on the mind.

tried to inculcate in him high moral standards

instill stresses gradual, gentle imparting of knowledge over a long period of time.

instill traditional values in your children

inseminate applies to a sowing of ideas in many minds so that they spread through a class or nation.

inseminated an unquestioning faith in technology

infix stresses firmly inculcating a habit of thought.

infixed a chronic cynicism

Examples of inculcate in a Sentence

The teacher inculcated in her students the importance of good study habits. dedicated teachers inculcating young minds with a love of learning
Recent Examples on the Web Over several decades, the fossil fuel lobby has effectively inculcated this idea. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, Foreign Affairs, 11 Sep. 2023 The absence of meaningful legislation is rooted in a failure to inculcate civic virtues or transmit ancient wisdom to our children. Caleb Nunes, National Review, 8 Sep. 2023 Their comedic chops inculcate his project with immersiveness that helps Lonestar Luchador feel like more than a playlist. Andre Gee, Rolling Stone, 7 Sep. 2023 Toledo has an indigenous background and proposes that multiculturalism, mutual tolerance, and respect for others should be inculcated in schools. Richard Feinberg, Foreign Affairs, 19 Apr. 2022 Schools and colleges have done an excellent job of inculcating a sense of community development in young minds. Taarini Kaur Dang, Forbes, 16 July 2023 One of Stalin’s goals was to inculcate patriotism among Muslim communities, whose sense of belonging to Soviet society remained tenuous. Jeff Eden, Foreign Affairs, 19 Apr. 2022 From watching companies go through ups and downs throughout my career, my top pieces of advice are: Be aware of and avoid common cash management fallacies, know your position in the different stages of a disruption if one occurs, and inculcate cash-conscious behavior into your company. Lee Henderson, Forbes, 20 Apr. 2023 Schools exist to stifle freedom, and also to inculcate it, a dialectic that is the essence of true education. A.o. Scott, New York Times, 21 June 2023 See More

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

Word History


Latin inculcatus, past participle of inculcare, literally, to tread on, from in- + calcare to trample, from calc-, calx heel

First Known Use

1539, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of inculcate was in 1539

Dictionary Entries Near inculcate

Cite this Entry

“Inculcate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


in·​cul·​cate in-ˈkəl-ˌkāt How to pronounce inculcate (audio) ˈin-(ˌ)kəl- How to pronounce inculcate (audio)
inculcated; inculcating
: to teach by frequent repetition
inculcated a deep sense of responsibility in their children
inculcation noun

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