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

transitive verb

: to cause to waste away by or as if by excessive fasting
: 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
maceration noun
macerator noun

Did you know?

Macerate is derived from the Latin verb macerare, which means "to soften" or "to steep," and, in Late Latin, can also mean "to mortify (the flesh)." Macerate first entered English in the mid-1500s to refer both to the wasting away of flesh especially by fasting and to softening or steeping. A few other manifestations sprouted thereafter from the word's figurative branch (e.g., the 18th-century novelist Laurence Sterne 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 Those are then macerated in a neutral cane spirit for six months to create the core Ancho Reyes expression. Jonah Flicker, Robb Report, 17 Nov. 2023 Dessert was a platter of Mara des Bois strawberries from Norwich Meadows Farm in Norwich, N.Y., macerated in sugar and served in a heap over a bed of crème fraîche. Mahira Rivers, New York Times, 25 Oct. 2023 The grapes were dried in single layers on bamboo racks for 120 days to concentrate their flavors and sugar, and they were then macerated and fermented for 40 days before spending seven years in wood, mainly Slavonian oak. Mike Desimone and Jeff Jenssen, Robb Report, 17 Oct. 2023 Each ingredient is macerated in the base spirit separately for five days before being blended together into the final product, which is bottled at 80 proof with no additives or flavorings. Jonah Flicker, Robb Report, 5 Oct. 2023 The grapes are de-stemmed, pressed, and left to macerate in a metal tank. Lauren Collins, The New Yorker, 7 Aug. 2023 Fujimaru’s second in command, Atsushi Tanaka, shows me around the first floor of this nondescript building, where first-of-their-kind experiments include Delaware grapes macerating in rotund earthenware vessels. Adam Erace, Travel + Leisure, 25 July 2023 Strawberries left to macerate in sugar overnight will be very soft with lots of liquid, but even just 30 minutes is long enough to yield some juice and slouch the berries. Maddy Sweitzer-Lamme, Bon Appétit, 17 July 2023 Serve saucy macerated berries over buttery pancakes or fudgy brownies. Kelsey Youngman, Bon Appétit, 17 July 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'macerate.' 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 maceratus, past participle of macerare to soften, steep

First Known Use

1547, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of macerate was in 1547


Dictionary Entries Near macerate

Cite this Entry

“Macerate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Dec. 2023.

Medical Definition


1 of 2 verb
mac·​er·​ate ˈmas-ə-ˌrāt How to pronounce macerate (audio)
macerated; macerating

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


2 of 2 noun
mac·​er·​ate ˈmas-ə-rət How to pronounce macerate (audio)
: a product of macerating : something prepared by maceration
examining the chromosomes in a liver macerate
compare homogenate
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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