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

On Wednesday, November 7, the new moon in Scorpio inspires you to ruminate on this concept. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What November's Capricorn Horoscope Means for You," 28 Oct. 2018 The episode is using the war as its foundational tragedy, so that once the story moves backward in time past the war, the episode can ruminate on the sheer, horrible coincidence of any human life. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "This Is Us goes to Vietnam for a poignant, gut-wrenching episode," 21 Oct. 2018 The theme is the one piece of the puzzle that Wegley and her team start ruminating on as early as a year in advance. Heather Finn, Good Housekeeping, "The Dallas Arboretum Uses 100,000 Pumpkins to Build Its Annual Fall Village," 12 Oct. 2018 Your British literature discussion may prove a nice distraction from ruminating about your relationships. Jennifer L. Taitz, WSJ, "The Case Against Cutting Class," 15 Aug. 2018 This is the time to create, ruminate, and shine with unabashed splendor. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What August's Aries Horoscope Means for You," 30 July 2018 But the film ruminates on this idea and expands it beyond Gloria, showing how actions have consequences for not only her but those around her as well. Tim Grierson, Popular Mechanics, "Quirky Monster Film 'Colossal' Is As Clever As It Is Disjointed," 6 Apr. 2017 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

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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Last Updated

8 Dec 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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More from Merriam-Webster on ruminate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ruminate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ruminate

Spanish Central: Translation of ruminate

Nglish: Translation of ruminate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ruminate for Arabic Speakers

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to enclose within walls

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