ruminate

verb

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

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
rumination noun
ruminative adjective
ruminatively adverb
ruminator noun

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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).

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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

Example Sentences

The question got us ruminating on the real value of wealth. He ruminated over the implications of their decision.
Recent Examples on the Web With no concert dates or deadline pressures, Keys was free to ruminate and to explore making music simply for the sake of making music. George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7 Sep. 2022 Some can ruminate for a long time without resolving a dilemma. Nuala Walsh, Forbes, 17 June 2022 As always when Apple announces new products, there is much to ruminate over from an accessibility point of view. Steven Aquino, Forbes, 17 Sep. 2021 This brain activation may explain why dumpees will often ruminate about their exes and try to find ways to reinstate contact against all odds. Suzy Katz, SELF, 12 May 2022 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 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.

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Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

1533, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of ruminate was in 1533

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Dictionary Entries Near ruminate

Cite this Entry

“Ruminate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ruminate. Accessed 4 Oct. 2022.

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Kids Definition

ruminate

verb

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

Medical Definition

ruminate

intransitive verb

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

Last Updated: 1 Oct 2022

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