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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from ruminate

rumination \ ˌrü-​mə-​ˈnā-​shən How to pronounce rumination (audio) \ noun
ruminative \ ˈrü-​mə-​ˌnā-​tiv How to pronounce ruminative (audio) \ adjective
ruminatively adverb
ruminator \ ˈrü-​mə-​ˌnā-​tər How to pronounce ruminator (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

Still, like most of the cast, he isn’t given much to do except wander in and out of Theo’s life, ruminating on the profundity of art and beauty. David Sims, The Atlantic, "The Goldfinch Is Star-Studded, Pretty, and Lifeless," 12 Sep. 2019 Afterward, Kebort ruminated about Poker Social Club and its claims to legality. Kashmir Hill, The New Yorker, "The Perils of Semi-Legal Poker," 8 Sep. 2019 Recombinetics, meanwhile, isn't ruminating over the blunder. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Part cow, part… bacterium? Biotech company makes heifer of gene-editing blunder," 1 Sep. 2019 Just make sure not to spend this anticipatory time ruminating on the many ways things can wrong, cautions Dr. DeMaria. Madeleine Burry, Good Housekeeping, "7 Self-Help Strategies For When You're Overwhelmed, According to Psychologists," 29 Aug. 2019 Brace yourself for sleepless nights spent ruminating on this horrible mistake. Claire Friedman, The New Yorker, "Things to Do During Your Karaoke Song’s Too Long Instrumental Interlude," 31 July 2019 So, when the idea to co-host a podcast first started ruminating, she was thrilled about the opportunity to just be herself, rather than her Fuller House character. Erinne Magee, Good Housekeeping, "How 'Fuller House' Star Jodie Sweetin and Her BFF, Celia Behar, Started a Podcast About Parenting," 30 July 2019 After three brilliant and heartfelt parenting parables that ruminated on aging, loss and impermanence alongside the pitfalls of arcade claw machines and toddler daycare centers, this was the final goodbye. Washington Post, "‘Toy Story’ lives on, but should it have?," 19 June 2019 Still, Nash & Young, though David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash (who now looks alarmingly like Eric Idle) are among the numerous talking heads who ruminate on those long-ago days — and maybe even more on the nights. Mark Feeney, BostonGlobe.com, "When Byrds of a feather, and other bands, flocked together," 13 June 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ruminate

Listen to Our Podcast about ruminate

Dictionary Entries near ruminate

rum-hole

ruminant

Ruminantia

ruminate

ruminatingly

rumkin

rumless

Statistics for ruminate

Last Updated

15 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ruminate

The first known use of ruminate was in 1533

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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).

WORD OF THE DAY

formidable, illustrious, or eminent

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!