mac·​er·​ate | \ ˈma-sə-ˌrāt How to pronounce macerate (audio) \
macerated; macerating

Definition of macerate

transitive verb

1 : to cause to waste away by or as if by excessive fasting
2 : to cause to become soft or separated into constituent elements by or as if by steeping in fluid broadly : steep, soak

intransitive verb

: to soften and wear away especially as a result of being wetted or steeped

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Other Words from macerate

maceration \ ˌma-​sə-​ˈrā-​shən How to pronounce macerate (audio) \ noun
macerator \ ˈma-​sə-​ˌrā-​tər How to pronounce macerate (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for macerate



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Did You Know?

Macerate is derived from the Latin verb macerare, meaning "to soften" or "to steep." That meaning was borrowed into English in 1563. However, the first English use of "macerate" refers to the wasting away of flesh especially by fasting. That use manifested itself in 1547. A few other manifestations sprouted thereafter from the word's figurative branch (e.g., Laurence Sterne (1713-1768) once wrote of "a city so macerated with expectation"); however, those extensions wilted in time. Today, the "steeping" and "soaking" senses of "macerate" saturate culinary articles (as in "macerating fruit in liquor") as well as other writings (scientific ones, for instance: "the food is macerated in the gizzard" or "the wood is macerated in the solution").

Examples of macerate in a Sentence

garnished with cherries that had been macerated in liqueur
Recent Examples on the Web The cooks will then macerate the fruit with sugar for 24 hours to concentrate and sweeten the flavors. Beth Graham, Saveur, "This Orcas Island Jam Company Transforms Local Plums into Vibrant Seasonal Preserves," 12 June 2019 Ribolla Gialla white grapes, prized for winemaking in the region, are macerated and slowly allowed to ferment with their skins for a year. Florence Fabricant, New York Times, "Meet the ‘Orange Wine’ of Vinegars," 6 Apr. 2020 Allow the ingredients to macerate in the bowl of the mortar for several minutes. Tara Duggan,, "Alice Waters and daughter Fanny Singer in Q&A about Singer’s memoir of life with Bay Area legend," 30 Mar. 2020 The '15 has more concentrated fruit - a smidgen macerated - with butterscotch and slightly stronger nose. cleveland, "13 inexpensive wines to consider sipping in February (photos)," 2 Feb. 2020 Most rosé wines are made from the juice of red grapes, which is briefly macerated with the pigment-laden skins. The New York Times News Service Syndicate, The Denver Post, "Rosé champagne brings the holiday joy," 28 Dec. 2019 Other methods exist, notably vapor infusion, whereby the botanicals, rather than macerating in the alcohol and water, are hung above, in sieves or baskets, through which the steam ascends. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "The Intoxicating History of Gin," 2 Dec. 2019 To make the wine according to ancient Venetian tradition, the juice is macerated on skins for 40 days, a practice that lends it the characteristic golden color and gives it a structure more akin to a red wine. Melanie Haiken, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Lost Golden Grape of Venice: How an Italian Family Resurrected its Rarest Wine," 16 Dec. 2019 The pizza has all the hallmarks of Neapolitan-style pizza with a few seasonal tricks, one example being the summer pizza with market peaches macerated in chili oil, mascarpone cheese and fresh mozzarella topped with prosciutto and cracked pepper. Gerry Frank, oregonlive, "Lake Oswego restaurateurs score a hat trick with new taqueria," 29 Sep. 2019

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

1547, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for macerate

Latin maceratus, past participle of macerare to soften, steep

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Time Traveler for macerate

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The first known use of macerate was in 1547

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Cite this Entry

“Macerate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for macerate


mac·​er·​ate | \ ˈmas-ə-ˌrāt How to pronounce macerate (audio) \
macerated; macerating

Medical Definition of macerate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

: to soften (as tissue) by steeping or soaking so as to separate into constituent elements

intransitive verb

: to undergo maceration allow the drug to macerate in hot water for one hour


mac·​er·​ate | \ ˈmas-ə-rət How to pronounce macerate (audio) \

Medical Definition of macerate (Entry 2 of 2)

: a product of macerating : something prepared by maceration examining the chromosomes in a liver macerate — compare homogenate

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