in·​ter·​dig·​i·​tate ˌin-tər-ˈdi-jə-ˌtāt How to pronounce interdigitate (audio)
interdigitated; interdigitating

intransitive verb

: to become interlocked like the fingers of folded hands
interdigitation noun

Did you know?

It probably won't surprise you to learn that interdigitate comes from the prefix inter-, as in interlock, and the Latin word digitus, meaning "finger." Digitus also gave us digit, which is used in English today to refer to (among other things) the finger or toe of any animal. Interdigitate usually suggests an interlocking of things with fingerlike projections, such as muscle fibers or the teeth of an old-fashioned bear trap. The word can also be used figuratively to imply a smooth interweaving of disparate things, such as the blending of two cultures within a shared region.

Word History


inter- + Latin digitus finger — more at toe

First Known Use

circa 1849, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of interdigitate was circa 1849


Dictionary Entries Near interdigitate

Cite this Entry

“Interdigitate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Dec. 2022.

Medical Definition


intransitive verb
in·​ter·​dig·​i·​tate -ˈdij-ə-ˌtāt How to pronounce interdigitate (audio)
interdigitated; interdigitating
: to become interlocked like the fingers of folded hands
thick myosin filaments interdigitate with the thin actin filaments J. M. Squire
: to undergo intercuspation
these teeth do not interdigitate completely J. A. Glassman
interdigitation noun
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