ini·​ti·​ate | \ i-ˈni-shē-ˌāt How to pronounce initiate (audio) \
initiated; initiating

Definition of initiate

 (Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to cause or facilitate the beginning of : set going initiate a program of reform enzymes that initiate fermentation
2 : to induct into membership by or as if by special rites
3 : to instruct in the rudiments or principles of something : introduce


ini·​tiate | \ i-ˈni-sh(ē-)ət How to pronounce initiate (audio) \

Definition of initiate (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : a person who is undergoing or has undergone an initiation
2 : a person who is instructed or adept in some special field


ini·​tiate | \ i-ˈni-sh(ē-)ət How to pronounce initiate (audio) \

Definition of initiate (Entry 3 of 3)

1a : initiated or properly admitted (as to membership or an office)
b : instructed in some secret knowledge
2 obsolete : relating to an initiate

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Other Words from initiate


initiator \ i-​ˈni-​shē-​ˌā-​tər How to pronounce initiate (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for initiate


begin, commence, start, initiate, inaugurate, usher in mean to take the first step in a course, process, or operation. begin, start, and commence are often interchangeable. begin, opposed to end, is the most general. begin a trip began dancing start, opposed to stop, applies especially to first actions, steps, or stages. the work started slowly commence can be more formal or bookish than begin or start. commence firing commenced a conversation initiate implies taking a first step in a process or series that is to continue. initiated diplomatic contacts inaugurate suggests a beginning of some formality or notion of significance. the discovery of penicillin inaugurated a new era in medicine usher in is somewhat less weighty than inaugurate. ushered in a period of economic decline

Examples of initiate in a Sentence

Verb Doctors have initiated a series of tests to determine the cause of the problem. The company initiated judicial proceedings against them. The new recruits will be initiated tomorrow night. He was initiated into a secret society. Noun These secrets are known only to a small group of initiates.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb How does Concert Health help providers initiate collaborative care? Mario Aguilar, STAT, 11 Sep. 2021 The mayor, with the advice of council, shall have the authority to initiate and recommend to the council the removal of the city manager, provided that such removal shall require an affirmative vote of five members of the council. Scott Wartman, The Enquirer, 9 Sep. 2021 Patrick has also been advocating for a bill that would initiate an audit of the 2020 elections, but that was left off the call. Cayla Harris, San Antonio Express-News, 7 Sep. 2021 It can be used as a regular acoustic hailing device, perhaps to give instructions to another ship or initiate a conversation. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 1 Sep. 2021 One way stress can initiate early labor is by causing the cervix, which usually stays sealed during pregnancy, to weaken and open up prematurely - a condition called cervical insufficiency. Mark Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 23 Aug. 2021 The Washington Football Team has six months to initiate a response to the refusal or the application will be abandoned. Scooby Axson, USA TODAY, 19 June 2021 Weaver has yet to initiate a throwing program, Lovullo said. Nick Piecoro, The Arizona Republic, 16 June 2021 Torres-Walker often had to initiate the votes when other councilmembers fell silent. Rachel Swan, San Francisco Chronicle, 7 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Scambos said this crusty layer will also be a barrier that prevents the downward draining of melt water, which will then flood the surface of the ice sheet and initiate run off at higher elevations. Rachel Ramirez, CNN, 19 Aug. 2021 According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, black people are no more likely to have an officer initiate contact with them than with white or Hispanic people. Aron Ravin, National Review, 9 July 2021 The company is partnering with environmental conservation organization SeaLegacy as a founding member of the latter’s Good Ocean Project, an initiate that aims to reduce plastic waste in the ocean. Douglas Yu, Forbes, 26 Apr. 2021 Look up the email address or phone number on the official site and initiate contact yourself. Nerd Wallet, oregonlive, 16 Mar. 2021 The fun elements attached to the serious nature of peer-coaching outcomes will also enhance memory retention and initiate solution thinking. Expert Panel®, Forbes, 11 Mar. 2021 Early in the film, the enigmatic mind thief Cobb (played by DiCaprio) explains the sci-fi notion of building dream worlds to his latest initiate, an architect named Ariadne (Ellen Page). David Sims, The Atlantic, 4 Aug. 2020 The project mostly caters to initiates, who can test its observations against their prior knowledge of Ferrante, but the authors themselves seem attracted to the role of the amateur. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, 6 Feb. 2020 On Election Day, Colorado voters will be asked to consider a ballot initiate directing Colorado Parks and Wildlife to import wolves from the north and turn them loose by 2023. Ben Long, Outdoor Life, 13 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Dialectic will conduct a first-in-human phase 1 dose-escalation study and initiate phase 2 studies. Dallas News, 20 Aug. 2021 Attacks in Vienna and Dresden in the last year have shown that the group still has the capacity to inspire and initiate acts of ruthless terror abroad. Sirwan Barzani, CNN, 19 Aug. 2021 Families can pay thousands of dollars and initiate lawsuits, all based on reports that turn out to be flawed. New York Times, 8 July 2021 Through Tink, banks can access aggregated financial data, initiate payments, verify account ownership and build personal-finance management tools. Simon Clark, WSJ, 24 June 2021 Dunckley tells parents that boredom is a normal, healthy process that stimulates creativity and helps kids initiate play on their own. Washington Post, 24 June 2021 Product managers need to document plans thoroughly and ensure other PMs can access them easily and, if necessary, initiate conversations about how everything gels. Hubert Palan, Forbes, 28 May 2021 Also announced was a feature called Dynamic View, which automatically adjusts the layout of a Teams Meeting as attendees join, initiate video, or begin to speak or present. Patrick Moorhead, Forbes, 4 Mar. 2021 Science during a crisis is difficult, and the scientific community responded in 2020 with an all-hands effort to design and initiate scores of trials on a moment’s notice. Maciej F. Boni, The Conversation, 3 Mar. 2021

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


1533, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1811, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1537, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for initiate


Late Latin initiatus, past participle of initiare, from Latin, to induct, from initium

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Time Traveler for initiate

Time Traveler

The first known use of initiate was in 1533

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Dictionary Entries Near initiate

initial teaching alphabet



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Statistics for initiate

Last Updated

15 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Initiate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for initiate



English Language Learners Definition of initiate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to cause the beginning of (something) : to start or begin (something)
: to formally accept (someone) as a member of a group or organization usually in a special ceremony
: to teach (someone) the basic facts or ideas about something



English Language Learners Definition of initiate (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person who is being formally accepted or who has been formally accepted as a member of a group or organization


ini·​ti·​ate | \ i-ˈni-shē-ˌāt How to pronounce initiate (audio) \
initiated; initiating

Kids Definition of initiate

1 : to set going : begin Scientists initiated an experiment.
2 : to admit into a club by special ceremonies
3 : to teach (someone) the basic facts about something She was initiated into the management of money.

More from Merriam-Webster on initiate

Nglish: Translation of initiate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of initiate for Arabic Speakers


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