as·​sim·​i·​late | \ ə-ˈsi-mə-ˌlāt How to pronounce assimilate (audio) \
assimilated; assimilating

Definition of assimilate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to take into the mind and thoroughly understand assimilate information Students need to assimilate new concepts.
b : to take in and utilize as nourishment : to absorb into the system The body assimilates digested food.
2a : to absorb into the cultural tradition of a population or group … the belief that tolerant hosts would be able to assimilate immigrants of whatever creed or colour.— Brian Holmes
b : to make similar … the only faculty that seems to assimilate man to the immortal gods.— Joseph Conrad
c phonetics : to alter by the process of assimilation (see assimilation sense 3)
3 : compare, liken

intransitive verb

: to be taken in or absorbed : to become assimilated Food assimilates better if taken slowly.— Francis Cutler Marshall


as·​sim·​i·​late | \ ə-ˈsi-mə-lət How to pronounce assimilate (audio) , -ˌlāt How to pronounce assimilate (audio) \

Definition of assimilate (Entry 2 of 2)

: something that is assimilated

Other Words from assimilate


assimilator \ ə-​ˈsi-​mə-​ˌlā-​tər How to pronounce assimilate (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for assimilate

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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What prepositions are used with assimilate?: Usage Guide


When assimilate is followed by a preposition, transitive senses 2a and 2b commonly take to and into and less frequently with; sense 2c regularly takes to; sense 3 most often takes to and sometimes with. The most frequent prepositions used with the intransitive sense are to and into.

Linguistic assimilation?

There are a handful of words in English that are examples of themselves, representatives of the very things that they describe. One such word is sesquipedalian ("having many syllables" or "characterized by the use of long words"). Another example, in a slightly less obvious fashion, is assimilate. When used as a technical word to describe a certain process of language change, assimilate refers to the habit that some sounds have of becoming more like the sounds that are close to them in a word (see assimilation, sense 3). For instance, the original spelling of immovable in English was inmovable, and over time the n began to sound more like its neighboring m, to the point that it actually became that letter.

Something similar occurred before assimilate was a word in English. Assimilate comes from the Latin prefix ad- (meaning "to, towards") and similis ("similar"). Over time the d of the prefix ad- assimilated itself with the s of similis.

Examples of assimilate in a Sentence

Verb Over time, most of the inhabitants of the "Little Italies" … assimilated rapidly to the society … — Stephan Thernstrom, Times Literary Supplement, 26 May 2000 Those groups were eagerly assimilating into the larger culture and rejecting their own cuisine … — Corby Kummer, New York Times Book Review, 16 Aug. 1998 The mistaken attempts to assimilate Lindner's paintings into the Pop Art movement in the 1960s … — Hilton Kramer, Arts & Antiques, January 1997 Children need to assimilate new ideas. There was a lot of information to assimilate at school. Schools were used to assimilate the children of immigrants. They found it hard to assimilate to American society. Many of these religious traditions have been assimilated into the culture. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb This has led many women across the region to attempt to assimilate to these standards of beauty by trying to tame their curly tresses through methods such as heat manipulation or chemical straightening. Jada Jackson, Allure, 23 May 2022 For decades, many Indigenous people in the area had distanced themselves from their culture to assimilate to mainstream Colombian society. Erika Page, The Christian Science Monitor, 2 May 2022 Yet, to assimilate social media to the broadcasting model, Carr vastly understates the novelty of social media's broadcasting approach. Damon Linker, The Week, 26 Oct. 2021 The multi-generational gap in Salish fluency is tied directly to boarding schools that began operating in the late 1800s by the federal government in an attempt to assimilate Native American children to white, Christian culture, Decker explained. Arkansas Online, 21 Oct. 2021 Lowriding also became a symbol of resistance to Chicanos who defended and preserved the lowrider culture rather than assimilate to others. Ana Ramirez, San Diego Union-Tribune, 5 Sep. 2021 That’s the message to opponents of immigration who have long argued immigrants cannot assimilate and the children of immigrants forever will live in poverty. Stuart Anderson, Forbes, 7 June 2022 Buddies help individuals assimilate and flourish through informal counseling about key tasks, powerful players, unspoken rules, obscure acronyms and expected attire. Joann S. Lublin, WSJ, 17 May 2022 Boarding school survivors also might be hesitant to recount the painful past and trust a government whose policies were to eradicate tribes and, later, assimilate them under the veil of education. Felicia Fonseca, Anchorage Daily News, 13 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun With deregulation in the 1980s, the focus of the training shifted to helping women and people of color assimilate into existing corporate cultures. Glenn Llopis, Forbes, 26 June 2021 Now, the pressure is on resident advisers and others to help the Class of 2023 assimilate. Nick Anderson, Washington Post, 25 Aug. 2019 According to Sessions, a good immigrant assimilates. Jeneé Osterheldt, kansascity, 6 Sep. 2017 See More

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

First Known Use of assimilate


1671, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1b


1935, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for assimilate

Verb and Noun

Middle English, from Medieval Latin assimilatus, past participle of assimilare, from Latin assimulare to make similar, from ad- + simulare to make similar, simulate

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Time Traveler for assimilate

Time Traveler

The first known use of assimilate was in 1671

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Dictionary Entries Near assimilate




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Statistics for assimilate

Last Updated

26 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Assimilate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for assimilate


as·​sim·​i·​late | \ ə-ˈsi-mə-ˌlāt How to pronounce assimilate (audio) \
assimilated; assimilating

Kids Definition of assimilate

1 : to become or cause to become part of a different group or country She was completely assimilated into her new country.
2 : to take in and make part of a larger thing The body assimilates nutrients in food.
3 : to learn thoroughly assimilate new ideas


as·​sim·​i·​late | \ ə-ˈsim-ə-ˌlāt How to pronounce assimilate (audio) \
assimilated; assimilating

Medical Definition of assimilate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to take in and utilize as nourishment : absorb into the system
2 : to absorb into the cultural tradition of a population or group the community assimilated many immigrants

intransitive verb

1 : to become absorbed or incorporated into the system some foods assimilate more readily than others
2 : to become culturally assimilated


as·​sim·​i·​late | \ -lət, -ˌlāt How to pronounce assimilate (audio) \

Medical Definition of assimilate (Entry 2 of 2)

: something that is assimilated

More from Merriam-Webster on assimilate

Nglish: Translation of assimilate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of assimilate for Arabic Speakers


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