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

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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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 Clairette, which is the more elegant of the two grapes, according to Cédric, is destemmed and crushed and then put in the ugni blanc juice to macerate for 24 hours at a cool temperature. Per And Britt Karlsson, Forbes, 19 Jan. 2022 Since wildfire smoke tends to lodge in the skins of grapes, white wines — which, unlike reds, don’t macerate with their skins during fermentation — are thought to be less susceptible to developing those ashtray-like flavors and aromas. Esther Mobley, San Francisco Chronicle, 29 Aug. 2021 The second step is to macerate the fruit, stirring everything together and letting the sugar pull all the juices out of the fruit. Ben Mims, Los Angeles Times, 15 July 2021 The cooks will then macerate the fruit with sugar for 24 hours to concentrate and sweeten the flavors. Beth Graham, Saveur, 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, 6 Apr. 2020 Allow the ingredients to macerate in the bowl of the mortar for several minutes. Tara Duggan,, 30 Mar. 2020 The '15 has more concentrated fruit - a smidgen macerated - with butterscotch and slightly stronger nose. cleveland, 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, 28 Dec. 2019 See More

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.

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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The first known use of macerate was in 1547

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Cite this Entry

“Macerate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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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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