sim·​u·​late ˈsim-yə-ˌlāt How to pronounce simulate (audio)
simulated; simulating

transitive verb

: to give or assume the appearance or effect of often with the intent to deceive : imitate
: to make a simulation of (something, such as a physical system)
simulative adjective

Did you know?

The zircon, that favorite of home shopping channels, simulates a diamond—more or less. A skilled furrier can dye lower-grade furs to simulate real mink. A skilled actress can simulate a range of emotions from absolute joy to crushing despair. And an apparatus that simulates the hazards of driving while intoxicated is likely to provide some very real benefits.

Choose the Right Synonym for simulate

assume, affect, pretend, simulate, feign, counterfeit, sham mean to put on a false or deceptive appearance.

assume often implies a justifiable motive rather than an intent to deceive.

assumed an air of cheerfulness around the patients

affect implies making a false show of possessing, using, or feeling.

affected an interest in art

pretend implies an overt and sustained false appearance.

pretended that nothing had happened

simulate suggests a close imitation of the appearance of something.

cosmetics that simulate a suntan

feign implies more artful invention than pretend, less specific mimicry than simulate.

feigned sickness

counterfeit implies achieving the highest degree of verisimilitude of any of these words.

an actor counterfeiting drunkenness

sham implies an obvious falseness that fools only the gullible.

shammed a most unconvincing limp

Example Sentences

The model will be used to simulate the effects of an earthquake. cosmetics that simulate a suntan
Recent Examples on the Web The club’s immersive, tiki bar experienceis designed to simulate a swinging pleasure cruise in a submarine. Scott Feinblatt, Los Angeles Times, 22 Nov. 2022 This is because of the fact that the soundbar is designed to simulate surround sound by bouncing audio off the walls and ceiling. Christian De Looper, BGR, 7 June 2022 Thompson: Moreno is part of a team working on an expansive, highly detailed computer program designed to simulate merging galaxies. Joanna Thompson, Scientific American, 20 Apr. 2022 Katz fired into a block made of ballistic gelatin designed to simulate the effects of bullet wounds in human tissue. CBS News, 16 Apr. 2022 The character also had a doll of her own: Ida Bean, a tiny cotton figure stuffed with beads (designed to simulate the feel of beans) who sported gold earrings identical to the ones that Addy herself wore. Nora Mcgreevy, Smithsonian Magazine, 16 Feb. 2022 During his playing career at Massachusetts, Coen practiced with artificial noise designed to simulate the noisemakers that would be used by Montana fans in the upcoming FCS semifinal game. Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, 24 Sep. 2021 The plan is to add a composite roof material designed to simulate the appearance of original cedar shakes. John Benson, cleveland, 16 Sep. 2021 But the ultimate goal, going back to Feynman’s vision, is a powerful new class of computers that can solve problems and accurately simulate things that today’s computers can’t. Scott Kirsner,, 17 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'simulate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Latin simulatus, past participle of simulare to copy, represent, feign, from similis like — more at same

First Known Use

1652, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of simulate was in 1652

Dictionary Entries Near simulate

Cite this Entry

“Simulate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



sim·​u·​late ˈsim-yə-ˌlāt How to pronounce simulate (audio)
simulated; simulating
: to give the appearance or effect of : imitate

Medical Definition


transitive verb

sim·​u·​late ˈsim-yə-ˌlāt How to pronounce simulate (audio)
simulated; simulating
: to have or produce a symptomatic resemblance to
lesions simulating leprosy
simulation noun

Legal Definition


transitive verb

sim·​u·​late ˈsim-yə-ˌlāt How to pronounce simulate (audio)
simulated; simulating
in the civil law of Louisiana : to make or carry out in a manner that does not express one's true intent
a simulated sale of the debtor's property in which no consideration was paid

More from Merriam-Webster on simulate

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