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

Other Words from ruminate

rumination \ ˌrü-​mə-​ˈnā-​shən How to pronounce ruminate (audio) \ noun
ruminative \ ˈrü-​mə-​ˌnā-​tiv How to pronounce ruminate (audio) \ adjective
ruminatively adverb
ruminator \ ˈrü-​mə-​ˌnā-​tər How to pronounce ruminate (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 early 1500s and actual chewing since later that same century. 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 Nobody is moved to ruminate on the rights and wrongs of the situation. The New Yorker, 6 May 2022 Snyder, asked to ruminate on some specifics about what went wrong, had an embarrassment of options to choose from. Eric Walden, The Salt Lake Tribune, 24 Mar. 2022 Rather than ruminate on defeat, Sundquist instead cultivated a laser focus on the positive rewards, a recurring theme in his story. Bruce Tulgan, Forbes, 12 Apr. 2022 The show is spread out over the campus’s two galleries and includes a salon-style hang of paintings, drawings and found photographic images that ruminate on her family’s migration from Cali, Colombia, to Cali — as in: SoCal. Los Angeles Times, 12 Mar. 2022 Being alone gives me time to ruminate and talk to myself and helps my self-awareness. Heran Mamo, Billboard, 18 Mar. 2022 The finished product naturally reflects the ebbs and flows of the previous few decades, as its songs ruminate on grief, loss, anger, and despair, and search for ways out of the darkness. Annie Zaleski, Variety, 25 Feb. 2022 In motherhood, there is no space anymore; there are no idle stretches of time within which to ruminate or look at the sky or simply let your mind do nothing at all. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, 25 Jan. 2022 University of Michigan psychologist Ethan Kross conducted research into the value of first-name self-talk as a way to disable anxiety before and after a stressful event when people often ruminate about their performance. Bryan Robinson, Forbes, 4 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

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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The first known use of ruminate was in 1533

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Last Updated

22 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ruminate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for ruminate


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

Kids Definition of ruminate

: to think carefully and deeply : meditate


intransitive verb
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

More from Merriam-Webster on ruminate

Nglish: Translation of ruminate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ruminate for Arabic Speakers


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