in·​grain | \ (ˌ)in-ˈgrān How to pronounce ingrain (audio) \
variants: or less commonly
ingrained also engrained; ingraining also engraining; ingrains also engrains

Definition of ingrain

 (Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

: to work indelibly into the natural texture or mental or moral constitution


in·​grain | \ ˈin-ˌgrān How to pronounce ingrain (audio) \

Definition of ingrain (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : made of fiber that is dyed before being spun into yarn
b : made of yarn that is dyed before being woven or knitted
2 : thoroughly worked in : innate


in·​grain | \ ˈin-ˌgrān How to pronounce ingrain (audio) \

Definition of ingrain (Entry 3 of 3)

: innate quality or character

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Choose the Right Synonym for ingrain


infuse, suffuse, imbue, ingrain, inoculate, leaven mean to introduce one thing into another so as to affect it throughout. infuse implies a pouring in of something that gives new life or significance. new members infused enthusiasm into the club suffuse implies a spreading through of something that gives an unusual color or quality. a room suffused with light imbue implies the introduction of a quality that fills and permeates the whole being. imbue students with intellectual curiosity ingrain, used only in the passive or past participle, suggests the deep implanting of a quality or trait. clung to ingrained habits inoculate implies an imbuing or implanting with a germinal idea and often suggests stealth or subtlety. an electorate inoculated with dangerous ideas leaven implies introducing something that enlivens, tempers, or markedly alters the total quality. a serious play leavened with comic moments

Examples of ingrain in a Sentence

Verb the journalism professor has long ingrained his students with a deep respect for their chosen profession the third-world privation he had witnessed forever ingrained itself upon the young doctor's memory Adjective an ingrain skepticism that saves him from falling for every hoax that comes along
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Celebration can cause your brain to release feel-good neurotransmitters that have been found to help ingrain habits, said Dr. Fogg. Anne Tergesen, WSJ, "Tiny Changes Can Help You Achieve Savings Goals for Retirement," 28 Dec. 2020 Like any elementary school punishment, the instructions were meant to ingrain a point of view in young and aspiring artists. Los Angeles Times, "What would Baldessari do? A good question for the end of a terrible year," 7 Dec. 2020 But even amid the camaraderie, a lingering self-consciousness exists, ingrained by decades of intimidation. Taylor Luck, The Christian Science Monitor, "Art in the forbidden zone: Inside the Saudi cultural awakening," 27 May 2020 The academy has tried in recent years to become more diverse in the wake of #OscarsSoWhite, a hashtag that appeared in 2015 to point to the lack of diversity ingrained in the Oscars. Travis M. Andrews, Washington Post, "The latecomer’s guide to ‘Parasite,’ the Oscars’ best picture winner," 10 Feb. 2020 But straws, unlike cars, are mostly irrelevant to stopping climate change — and they're not ingrained in the American identity in a way that slots perfectly into a culture war. Benjy Sarlin, NBC News, "Green new ride: 2020ers race toward an electric car future. Trump has other ideas.," 19 Sep. 2019 But unlike seismic shifts of the past — ingrained into the American consciousness through a single catastrophic event — the novel coronavirus crept in undercover, one mind-boggling announcement at a time. Mandy Mclaren, The Courier-Journal, "As the coronavirus interrupts daily life, a Louisville family grapples with a new reality," 20 Mar. 2020 The desire to succeed while helping others along the way was ingrained in Lin from childhood. Fortune, "How this ‘Two Popes’ and ‘It’ producer is improving diversity in Hollywood while others just pay lip service," 22 Jan. 2020 The payroll software is part of a much larger SAP software suite that is ingrained in nearly every function of the city. Aubrey Wieber, Anchorage Daily News, "Payroll software settlement with Anchorage firefighters union costs city an estimated $2 million," 15 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun From their first five-mile hike to joining a weekend campout, outdoor adventures ingrain skills into our Scouts that are applicable in the real world. Dallas News, "Building teamwork and leadership: Boy Scouts of America prepares youth to solve challenges with outdoor excursions," 12 Oct. 2020 Such moments are part of what ingrain Disney movies in us, says Favreau, noting that the family-friendly films are often a child’s first lesson in how to navigate life's bigger turns: love, death and personal ethics. Andrea Mandell, USA TODAY, "How Donald Glover found his inner Simba after losing his father: 'It wasn't lost on me'," 10 July 2019 Police forces actually only hire candidates that fall below a certain IQ level, and ingrain in their officers to simply take orders from the chiefs and mayor's. Joseph A. Gambardello,, "3 Camden police officers removed from duty over alleged assault caught on video," 27 Feb. 2018

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


circa 1641, in the meaning defined above


1766, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1899, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for ingrain

Time Traveler

The first known use of ingrain was circa 1641

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Statistics for ingrain

Last Updated

14 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ingrain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jan. 2021.

More from Merriam-Webster on ingrain

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ingrain

Britannica English: Translation of ingrain for Arabic Speakers

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