ru·​mi·​nate | \ˈrü-mə-ˌnāt \
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

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Other Words from ruminate

rumination \ ˌrü-​mə-​ˈnā-​shən \ noun
ruminative \ ˈrü-​mə-​ˌnā-​tiv \ adjective
ruminatively adverb
ruminator \ ˈrü-​mə-​ˌnā-​tər \ 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

In a novel that ruminates so heavily on death, such memories provide a celebratory sense of joy. Alex Gilvarry, New York Times, "A Dying Father, His Son and One Last Road Trip," 25 Apr. 2018 Their images and phrases come back to me in that twilight state between ruminating and dreaming. Ron Grossman,, "The nation's divide over guns is a disturbing echo of the past," 11 June 2018 As for charting your own course, consider ruminating on these four points inspired by the film. Laura Regensdorf, Vogue, "This Natalie Portman–Backed Documentary Will Make You Seriously Consider Going Vegetarian," 16 June 2018 Rapper and professional provocateur Kanye West, ruminating on one of the bleakest chapters in American history while visiting TMZ's headquarters. Doug Criss, CNN, "5 things for May 2: Trump, Arizona teachers, migrants, Armenia, air pollution," 2 May 2018 Henrikson ruminates on other purposes the trees might have served, including rites of passage for young adults, shamanism and even astronomy. Anchorage Daily News, "What made the hollowed out ‘fire trees’ of the Tongass? An artist turns investigator to find an answer," 23 June 2018 In rare cases, Bell ruminates on the saturation of color, as with a series of red-hued boxes featured in last year’s Whitney Biennial. Marielle Wakim, Los Angeles Magazine, "Tech Meets Fine Art in Larry Bell’s Glass Cubes," 22 June 2018 Look further back, though, and ruminating on the human flaws of our leaders, and also on how their human flaws made them our leaders, has been a preoccupation at least since antiquity. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "Should Presidents Be ‘Good’ People?," 4 May 2018 Across town, Helene Gross has been ruminating over the Republican candidates. Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, azcentral, "Kelli Ward may have missed her shot in the GOP primary for Senate. Here's why," 11 June 2018

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.

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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

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Statistics for ruminate

Last Updated

27 Oct 2018

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The first known use of ruminate was in 1533

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English Language Learners Definition of ruminate

: to think carefully and deeply about something

of an animal : to bring up and chew again what has already been chewed and swallowed


ru·​mi·​nate | \ˈrü-mə-ˌnāt \
ruminated; ruminating

Kids Definition of ruminate

: to think carefully and deeply : meditate

ru·​mi·​nate | \ˈrü-mə-ˌnāt \
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

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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).


to express warning or disapproval

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