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

Does your work relate in any way to Tom Sachs’s takeoffs of fashion logos? Vogue, "You Won’t Believe What Ava Nirui Dreamed Up for Her New Marc Jacobs Collaboration," 1 Nov. 2018 Because designer Kerby Jean-Raymond used fashion to convey a message that many black Americans can relate to, especially in recent months. Mekita Rivas, Teen Vogue, "Yara Shahidi Wears Pyer Moss “Stop Calling 911" T-Shirt in Los Angeles," 22 Oct. 2018 Attorneys Josh Blackman and Chad Flores joined Heindorff on stage to field any questions related to Defense Distributed's ongoing case against various state attorney generals. Nathan Mattise And Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "Defense Distributed’s new era—Cody Wilson resigns, former arts professional steps in," 25 Sep. 2018 State police are investigating four untimely deaths in Litchfield County that could be related to heroin overdoes. Peter Marteka, Courant Community, "State Police Investigating Four Untimely Deaths In Nine Days," 15 July 2018 In some unresolved cases the parents have been deported, children entered the country with people who were not biologically related to them, the parents have been deemed a danger to their children, or the parents simply have not been located yet. Nina Bahadur, SELF, "6 Impactful Ways to Help Migrant Families Separated at the Border," 13 July 2018 This festival is dedicated to foodstuffs Cincinnatians and Northern Kentuckians hold dearest (well, those that are not chili-related): Bacon. Bourbon. Luann Gibbs,, "Top 5 events in Cincinnati this weekend," 13 July 2018 The lack of definition has resulted in speculation that the primary motivation behind the move to Los Angeles wasn’t related to basketball. Dylan Hernandez,, "On the Lakers’ road back to greatness with LeBron, the hardest steps may still lie ahead," 12 July 2018 The crash is under investigation but is not alcohol-related, according to the accident report. Lisa Maria Garza,, "Pedestrian killed trying to cross Orange Blossom Trail in Osceola County, troopers say," 8 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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Statistics for relate

Last Updated

13 Nov 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

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


something that serves to warn or remind

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