mac·​er·​ate | \ˈma-sə-ˌrāt \
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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from macerate

maceration \ˌma-​sə-​ˈrā-​shən \ noun
macerator \ˈma-​sə-​ˌrā-​tər \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for macerate


drench, drown, impregnate, saturate, soak, sodden, sop, souse, steep


wring (out)

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 botanicals are macerated (rather than heated, which is called an infusion) in the neutral spirit at room temperature. Francine Maroukian, Popular Mechanics, "The Mysteries of Gin Revealed," 10 Aug. 2018 That giant macerated lump of full-fat dairy and sodium and potato carbs can sit like a bowling ball in the pit of your stomach for hours. Hilary Cadigan, Bon Appetit, "Love, Thy Name Is Slow-Roasted Onion Dip," 2 June 2018 Chill the strawberries in the fridge for 1-2 hours, to allow the fruit to macerate and the syrup to develop its flavors. Skye Mcalpine, Vogue, "How to Host a Gorgeous Summer Dinner Party Without Cooking," 22 June 2018 The cake is lovely on its own; the chef recommends serving it with lightly sweetened whipped cream and macerated fruit, such as berries mixed with lemon juice and sugar. Becky Krystal, Houston Chronicle, "This classic coffee cake is what good mornings are made of," 18 June 2018 Shallots macerated in a little Sherry vinegar bring depth to the salsa verde. Kitty Greenwald, WSJ, "Botanica’s Chicken Paillards With Salsa Verde and Red Cabbage," 3 May 2018 Shed executive chef Perry Hoffman (whose mother happened to be a florist) has added julienned rose petals into a beet dish, made an ice cream with plum blossoms, and macerated fresh berries with rose geranium-infused sugar (see recipe). Sarah Fritsche, San Francisco Chronicle, "Flower power: Bay Area chefs and farmers push petals into the mainstream," 19 Apr. 2018 This is particularly noticeable when macerating fresh fruit. Noelle Carter,, "How to spike your cooking game with hard liquor," 9 Feb. 2018 Flower pickers transport the harvest (sometimes by bicycle) to be macerated so the flavors can be extracted. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "What Is Elderflower? Everything to Know About Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Wedding Cake Flavor," 20 Mar. 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about macerate

Listen to Our Podcast about macerate

Statistics for macerate

Last Updated

18 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for macerate

The first known use of macerate was in 1547

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for macerate


mac·​er·​ate | \ˈmas-ə-ˌrāt \
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 \

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

More from Merriam-Webster on macerate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with macerate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for macerate

Comments on macerate

What made you want to look up macerate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


living or existing for a long time

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!