ruminate

verb
ru·​mi·​nate | \ ˈrü-mə-ˌnāt How to pronounce ruminate (audio) \
ruminated; ruminating

Definition of ruminate

transitive verb

1 : to go over in the mind repeatedly and often casually or slowly
2 : to chew repeatedly for an extended period

intransitive verb

1 : to chew again what has been chewed slightly and swallowed : chew the cud
2 : to engage in contemplation : reflect

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from ruminate

rumination \ ˌrü-​mə-​ˈnā-​shən How to pronounce rumination (audio) \ noun
ruminative \ ˈrü-​mə-​ˌnā-​tiv How to pronounce ruminative (audio) \ adjective
ruminatively adverb
ruminator \ ˈrü-​mə-​ˌnā-​tər How to pronounce ruminator (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for ruminate

ponder, meditate, muse, ruminate mean to consider or examine attentively or deliberately. ponder implies a careful weighing of a problem or, often, prolonged inconclusive thinking about a matter. pondered the course of action meditate implies a definite focusing of one's thoughts on something so as to understand it deeply. meditated on the meaning of life muse suggests a more or less focused daydreaming as in remembrance. mused upon childhood joys ruminate implies going over the same matter in one's thoughts again and again but suggests little of either purposive thinking or rapt absorption. ruminated on past disappointments

Did You Know?

When you ruminate you chew something over, either literally or figuratively. Literal rumination may seem a little gross to humans, but to cows, chewing your cud (that's partially digested food brought up from the stomach for another chew) is just a natural part of life. Figurative ruminating is much more palatable to humans; that kind of deep, meditative thought is often deemed quite a worthy activity. The verb "ruminate" has described metaphorical chewing over since the 1500s and actual chewing since the early 1600s. Our English word derives from and shares the meanings of the Latin ruminari, which in turn derives from "rumen," the Latin name for the first stomach compartment of ruminant animals (that is, creatures like cows that chew their cud).

Examples of ruminate in a Sentence

The question got us ruminating on the real value of wealth. He ruminated over the implications of their decision.
Recent Examples on the Web Their brains can become fixated, ruminating on worrying thoughts, without the prefrontal cortex regulating those intense feelings. Sara Harrison, Wired, "Why Stress-Baking and Cleaning Make You Less Anxious," 27 Mar. 2020 There is a whole shelf of books that ruminates on the value of being home. Paul Theroux, WSJ, "A Wanderer’s Guide to Staying Home, by Paul Theroux," 30 Mar. 2020 That day clearly stays with Mr. Trump, who has ruminated on it over the past week. Peter Baker, New York Times, "An Abrupt Move That Stunned Aides: Inside Trump’s Aborted Attack on Iran," 21 Sep. 2019 Witt, in this piece, offers a comprehensive history of online dating and ruminates about the specific kind of loneliness that beckons people to online dating apps. Jacqueline Alnes, Longreads, "Swipe Right: A Reading List about Online Dating," 9 Oct. 2019 The film will resonate with anyone who has ever felt existential at a large family gathering, or ruminated, watching young cousins dance with old great-aunts, on the passage of time. Molly Lambert, WSJ, "In Awkwafina’s Drama Debut, Family Matters," 11 July 2019 When the world’s one and a half billion beef and dairy cows ruminate, the microbes in their bathtub-size stomachs generate methane as a by-product. Tad Friend, The New Yorker, "Can a Burger Help Solve Climate Change?," 23 Sep. 2019 What are your hopes and dreams?Plenty has changed in your life since last year, so use this lunation as an opportunity to ruminate on your journey. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What November's Aquarius Horoscope Means for You," 28 Oct. 2018 Numerous players ruminated about Bryant's sudden passing, most still in very reflective and somber moods when the subject arose. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, "32 things we learned from Super Bowl LIV's Opening Night with Kansas City Chiefs, San Francisco 49ers," 28 Jan. 2020

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

1533, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for ruminate

Latin ruminatus, past participle of ruminari to chew the cud, muse upon, from rumin-, rumen rumen; perhaps akin to Sanskrit romantha act of chewing the cud

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ruminate

Time Traveler for ruminate

Time Traveler

The first known use of ruminate was in 1533

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about ruminate

Statistics for ruminate

Last Updated

11 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ruminate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ruminate. Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for ruminate

ruminate

verb
How to pronounce ruminate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of ruminate

formal : to think carefully and deeply about something
technical, of an animal : to bring up and chew again what has already been chewed and swallowed

ruminate

verb
ru·​mi·​nate | \ ˈrü-mə-ˌnāt How to pronounce ruminate (audio) \
ruminated; ruminating

Kids Definition of ruminate

: to think carefully and deeply : meditate
ru·​mi·​nate | \ ˈrü-mə-ˌnāt How to pronounce ruminate (audio) \
ruminated; ruminating

Medical Definition of ruminate

1 : to chew again what has been chewed slightly and swallowed : chew the cud
2 : to engage in contemplation

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on ruminate

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

WORD OF THE DAY

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

May 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a blooming wisteria tree
  • Which is a synonym of exiguous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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