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

Synonyms & Antonyms for macerate


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


wring (out)

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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

Andrés’s tips include macerating the peaches and raspberries in sugar for about an hour. Becky Krystal, Washington Post, "Peaches, raspberries and wine: This white sangria is bright and refreshing," 7 Aug. 2019 Judging from photos, the superficial layers on the soles of Brown’s feet were macerated from too much moisture. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Questions abound regarding Antonio Brown’s grotesque-looking foot condition," 3 Aug. 2019 Try dried fruit plumped in sugar syrup or macerated in alcohol. Washington Post, "How to create the ice cream of your dreams," 9 July 2019 This is a blend of monastrell and bobal grapes, macerated with Valencia orange peels, Azahar flowers, cinnamon and cardamom. Dave Mcintyre, Washington Post, "This $13 Spanish red will provide a delightful match for all your grilled food," 5 July 2019 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

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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Statistics for macerate

Last Updated

7 Oct 2019

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Time Traveler for macerate

The first known use of macerate was in 1547

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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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