mi·​me·​sis | \ mə-ˈmē-səs How to pronounce mimesis (audio) , mī- \

Definition of mimesis

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Mimesis is a term with an undeniably classical pedigree. Originally a Greek word, it has been used in aesthetic or artistic theory to refer to the attempt to imitate or reproduce reality since Plato and Aristotle. "Mimesis" is derived from the Greek verb mimeisthai, which means "to imitate" and which itself comes from mimos, meaning "mime." The English word mime also descends from "mimos," as do "mimic" and "mimicry." And what about "mimeograph," the name of the duplicating machine that preceded the photocopier? We can't be absolutely certain what the folks at the A. B. Dick Company had in mind when they came up with "Mimeograph" (a trademark name that has since expired), but influence from "mimos" and its descendants certainly seems probable.

Examples of mimesis in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web And there’s the myth of Pygmalion and Galatea, an account of something far kinkier than misperception: a work of art not merely resembling a human being but actually coming to life, the ultimate sculpture as mimesis. Karen Wilkin, WSJ, "A Morbid, Engaging Body of Work," 26 Mar. 2018 Therein lies the danger of Trumpian mimesis: Emulating the president means embodying his worldview, however briefly or satirically. Katy Waldman, Slate Magazine, "We All Talk Like Donald Trump Now," 28 Feb. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mimesis.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of mimesis

circa 1586, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for mimesis

Late Latin, from Greek mimēsis, from mimeisthai

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The first known use of mimesis was circa 1586

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Cite this Entry

“Mimesis.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mimesis. Accessed 28 January 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on mimesis

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with mimesis

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about mimesis

Comments on mimesis

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showing steady, earnest care and effort

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