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

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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 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 Most of the narrators foreground the act of telling and ruminate on the intention behind and effects of disclosing secrets, putting inchoate impulses, fears, or yearnings into clear, logical prose. BostonGlobe.com, "For Murakami, a return to form in ‘First Person Singular,’ a new story collection that sparkles," 1 Apr. 2021 To be fully present and committed to the work in front of you, fight the urge to overanalyze or ruminate on other thoughts. Avery Blank, Forbes, "3 Easy Ways To Quickly Clear Your Head And Focus," 2 Mar. 2021 Perfectionism causes women to ruminate over decisions and over-analyze, keeping them from speaking up, questioning authority and taking action. NBC News, "Let go of perfection: 6 strategies for stopping the negative spin cycle," 10 Mar. 2021 The end result is neither here nor there, a muttery mess in which characters ceaselessly ruminate in voice-over, accompanied by wispy purple clouds of thought, while enacting a thoroughly generic Western scenario. Bilge Ebiri, Vulture, "Chaos Walking Needs More Chaos, Less Walking," 5 Mar. 2021 Don’t ruminate; however, perform some analysis to mitigate the risk for next time. Anne Sugar, Forbes, "What To Do If You Have A Disastrous Meeting," 4 Mar. 2021 Well, the Trump campaign should ruminate on that question. Anthony Leonardi, Washington Examiner, "Tucker Carlson: Trump won't win by calling out Biden's 'mental decline'," 30 Sep. 2020 Garrett doesn’t ruminate over how the world views him in the aftermath of the incident. cleveland, "How Myles Garrett pondered quitting football after Mason Rudolph, became a better man, and wants to clear the air with the QB," 9 Sep. 2020 Research shows that victims tend to ruminate over their interpersonal offenses and that such rumination decreases the motivation for forgiveness by increasing the drive to seek revenge. Scott Barry Kaufman, Scientific American, "Unraveling the Mindset of Victimhood," 29 June 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.

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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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Time Traveler for ruminate

Time Traveler

The first known use of ruminate was in 1533

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Last Updated

4 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ruminate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ruminate. Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for ruminate

ruminate

verb

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

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Comments on ruminate

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