re·late | \ ri-ˈlāt \
related; relating

Definition of relate 

transitive verb

1 : to give an account of : tell

2 : to show or establish logical or causal connection between seeks to relate crime to poverty

intransitive verb

1 : to apply or take effect retroactively usually used with back the law relates back to the initial date of decision

2 : to have relationship or connection the readings relate to his lectures

3 : to have or establish a relationship : interact the way a child relates to a teacher

4a : to respond especially favorably can't relate to that kind of music

b : to understand and like or have sympathy for someone or something Those who have experienced the same hardship can relate. characters the reader can easily relate to

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Other words from relate

relater or relator \ri-ˈlā-tər \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for relate

join, combine, unite, connect, link, associate, relate mean to bring or come together into some manner of union. join implies a bringing into contact or conjunction of any degree of closeness. joined forces in an effort to win combine implies some merging or mingling with corresponding loss of identity of each unit. combined jazz and rock to create a new music unite implies somewhat greater loss of separate identity. the colonies united to form a republic connect suggests a loose or external attachment with little or no loss of identity. a mutual defense treaty connected the two nations link may imply strong connection or inseparability of elements still retaining identity. a name forever linked with liberty associate stresses the mere fact of frequent occurrence or existence together in space or in logical relation. opera is popularly associated with high society relate suggests the existence of a real or presumed logical connection. related what he observed to what he already knew

Examples of relate in a Sentence

You must be feeling awful. I went through something similar myself last year, so I can relate. We listened eagerly as she related the whole exciting story.

Recent Examples on the Web

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has filed an open records request to obtain information related to funding sources and warden personnel in the parks. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin warden shortage and changes in responsibilities raise concerns," 14 July 2018 And Democrats have started arguing that Kavanaugh should pledge to recuse himself from issues related to Trump. Matt Viser,, "For questions of presidential power, Brett Kavanaugh has several answers," 14 July 2018 His campaign treasurer and a fundraiser were convicted on felonies related to the straw-donor scheme, but Mr. Liu was never charged with any wrongdoing. Katie Honan, WSJ, "Former New York City Comptroller to Take On State Senator for Queens Seat," 13 July 2018 Those include ongoing domestic and international conflict; level of harmony or discord within a nation; and indicators related to militarization. Ryan Craggs, Condé Nast Traveler, "The 10 Safest Countries in the World," 5 July 2018 BlackBerry has denied any involvement in the proceedings, and the DEA declined to comment because some litigation related to the Krokos investigation remains ongoing. Brian Barrett, WIRED, "How the US Government Secretly Sold 'Spy Phones' to Suspects," 13 July 2018 Chief Kerr Putney encouraged anyone with information relating to the crimes to call the police. Julianna Rennie, charlotteobserver, "Seven Latino men were robbed in ‘targeted’ incidents over two-day period, CMPD says," 12 July 2018 Voters will face two specific questions related to the public education system. Richard Ruelas, azcentral, "Arizona elections: #RedForEd, public education issues make way onto November ballot," 12 July 2018 Now, she’s posted an update, apologizing after receiving backlash, and deleted some tweets related to the event. Rosemary Donahue, Allure, "The Problem With "Plane Bae" and Using Strangers for Entertainment," 11 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'relate.' 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 relate

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for relate

Latin relatus (past participle of referre to carry back), from re- + latus, past participle of ferre to carry — more at tolerate, bear

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Phrases Related to relate

relate back to

relate to

related by blood

Statistics for relate

Last Updated

18 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for relate

The first known use of relate was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for relate



English Language Learners Definition of relate

: to show or make a connection between (two or more things)

: to understand and like or have sympathy for someone or something

: to tell (something, such as a story)


re·late | \ ri-ˈlāt \
related; relating

Kids Definition of relate

1 : to give an account of : narrate Each time he … cawed several times as if he were relating his adventures … —Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

2 : to show or have a relationship to or between : connect The events are related. The lesson relates to history.

re·late | \ ri-ˈlāt \
related; relating

Medical Definition of relate 

: to have meaningful social relationships : interact realistically an inability to relate emotionally to others —Willow Lawson

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More from Merriam-Webster on relate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for relate

Spanish Central: Translation of relate

Nglish: Translation of relate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of relate for Arabic Speakers

Comments on relate

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