stim·​u·​late | \ ˈstim-yə-ˌlāt How to pronounce stimulate (audio) \
stimulated; stimulating

Definition of stimulate

transitive verb

1 : to excite to activity or growth or to greater activity : animate, arouse
2a : to function as a physiological stimulus to
b : to arouse or affect by a stimulant (such as a drug)

intransitive verb

: to act as a stimulant or stimulus

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from stimulate

stimulation \ ˌstim-​yə-​ˈlā-​shən How to pronounce stimulate (audio) \ noun
stimulative \ ˈstim-​yə-​ˌlā-​tiv How to pronounce stimulate (audio) \ adjective
stimulator \ ˈstim-​yə-​ˌlā-​tər How to pronounce stimulate (audio) \ noun
stimulatory \ ˈstim-​yə-​lə-​ˌtȯr-​ē How to pronounce stimulate (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for stimulate

provoke, excite, stimulate, pique, quicken mean to arouse as if by pricking. provoke directs attention to the response called forth. my stories usually provoke laughter excite implies a stirring up or moving profoundly. news that excited anger and frustration stimulate suggests a rousing out of lethargy, quiescence, or indifference. stimulating conversation pique suggests stimulating by mild irritation or challenge. that remark piqued my interest quicken implies beneficially stimulating and making active or lively. the high salary quickened her desire to have the job

Examples of stimulate in a Sentence

A raise in employee wages might stimulate production. The economy was not stimulated by the tax cuts. a hormone that stimulates the growth of muscle tissue Their discussion stimulated him to research the subject more. He was stimulated by their discussion.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Another study led by VA researchers looked at transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a noninvasive procedure that uses magnets to stimulate the brain, which has been shown to help treatment-resistant depression. Emily Matchar, Smithsonian Magazine, 10 Sep. 2021 Their goal was to create a vaccine to stimulate the production of bNAbs targeting the receptor binding domain (RBD) located on the coronavirus’ spike protein. Lara Marks, Quartz, 1 Sep. 2021 The ‘Quin House is not only a six-floor mansion in Boston’s historic Back Bay, but it is also designed to stimulate member’s minds and imagination. J.q. Louise, Forbes, 30 Aug. 2021 The federal program, created under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, was intended to stimulate long-term investment and job creation in low-income neighborhoods. The Salt Lake Tribune, 26 Aug. 2021 The Japanese central bank was a pioneer in introducing zero interest rates and buying large quantities of government bonds to stimulate a sluggish economy, tools subsequently used by the Federal Reserve. Peter Landers, WSJ, 22 Aug. 2021 It is filled with sensory play equipment designed to stimulate not just kids’ imaginations but their brains and bodies. Mary Carole Mccauley,, 18 Aug. 2021 The decision to stimulate the economy has also created a lot more demand than normal coming out of a recession, which is helping drive continued productivity and business investment. Washington Post, 18 Aug. 2021 Wim Hof suggested cold showers to stimulate the vagus nerve. Emma Cline, The New Yorker, 16 Aug. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'stimulate.' 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 stimulate

1566, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for stimulate

Latin stimulatus, past participle of stimulare, from stimulus goad; perhaps akin to Latin stilus stem, stylus — more at style

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About stimulate

Time Traveler for stimulate

Time Traveler

The first known use of stimulate was in 1566

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near stimulate




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for stimulate

Last Updated

18 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Stimulate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Sep. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for stimulate



English Language Learners Definition of stimulate

: to make (something) more active : to cause or encourage (something) to happen or develop
: to make (a person) excited or interested in something


stim·​u·​late | \ ˈsti-myə-ˌlāt How to pronounce stimulate (audio) \
stimulated; stimulating

Kids Definition of stimulate

1 : to make active or more active : arouse The advertisements stimulated interest in the new product.
2 : to act on as a bodily stimulus or stimulant Caffeine stimulates the nervous system.


transitive verb
stim·​u·​late | \ -ˌlāt How to pronounce stimulate (audio) \
stimulated; stimulating

Medical Definition of stimulate

1 : to excite to activity or growth or to greater activity
2a : to function as a physiological stimulus to (as a nerve or muscle)
b : to arouse or affect by a stimulant (as a drug)

Other Words from stimulate

stimulative \ ˈstim-​yə-​ˌlāt-​iv How to pronounce stimulate (audio) \ adjective
stimulatory \ -​lə-​ˌtōr-​ē, -​ˌtȯr-​ How to pronounce stimulate (audio) \ adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on stimulate

Nglish: Translation of stimulate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of stimulate for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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