re·​late ri-ˈlāt How to pronounce relate (audio)
related; relating

transitive verb

: to give an account of : tell
: to show or establish logical or causal connection between
seeks to relate crime to poverty

intransitive verb

: to apply or take effect retroactively
usually used with back
the law relates back to the initial date of decision
: to have relationship or connection
the readings relate to his lectures
: to have or establish a relationship : interact
the way a child relates to a teacher
: to respond especially favorably
can't relate to that kind of music
: to understand and like or have sympathy for someone or something
Those who have experienced the same hardship can relate.
characters the reader can easily relate to
relater noun
or relator
Choose the Right Synonym for relate

join, combine, unite, connect, link, associate, relate mean to bring or come together into some manner of union.

join implies a bringing into contact or conjunction of any degree of closeness.

joined forces in an effort to win

combine implies some merging or mingling with corresponding loss of identity of each unit.

combined jazz and rock to create a new music

unite implies somewhat greater loss of separate identity.

the colonies united to form a republic

connect suggests a loose or external attachment with little or no loss of identity.

a mutual defense treaty connected the two nations

link may imply strong connection or inseparability of elements still retaining identity.

a name forever linked with liberty

associate stresses the mere fact of frequent occurrence or existence together in space or in logical relation.

opera is popularly associated with high society

relate suggests the existence of a real or presumed logical connection.

related what he observed to what he already knew

Example Sentences

You must be feeling awful. I went through something similar myself last year, so I can relate. We listened eagerly as she related the whole exciting story.
Recent Examples on the Web And as companies become more global, their success rides on being able to relate and communicate. Byshana Clarke, Fortune, 3 Mar. 2023 The robotic sermon went on to relate the story of when Joseph, the son of Jacob, was reunited with his brothers after many years. Los Angeles Times, 3 Mar. 2023 But that's the beauty of Teen TV: Whatever the genre trappings, most of us can, for better or worse, still relate. Alexis Gunderson, Chron, 1 Mar. 2023 Anyone who has had to send a kid down the aisle can probably relate. Tori Polizzotto, ELLE, 28 Feb. 2023 Though Rashad – whose 10-season playing career ended in 1982 – and Curry practice different crafts, that’s obviously a level of doubt to which Curry can relate. C.j. Holmes, San Francisco Chronicle, 28 Feb. 2023 Audiences can often also relate better to European sensibilities and style. John Hopewell, Variety, 28 Feb. 2023 The two novels relate to each other like twitching limbs from the same violated torso. James Wood, The New Yorker, 6 Feb. 2023 In fact, my guess is that many of the millions of people who have watched the series can relate. Sophia A. Nelson, CNN, 17 Dec. 2022 See More

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

Word History


Latin relatus (past participle of referre to carry back), from re- + latus, past participle of ferre to carry — more at tolerate, bear

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of relate was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near relate

Cite this Entry

“Relate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


re·​late ri-ˈlāt How to pronounce relate (audio)
related; relating
: to give an account of : tell
relate a story
: to show or establish a relationship between
relate cause and effect
: to have relationship or connection : refer
the readings relate to the class discussions
: to have or establish a social relationship
the way a child relates to a teacher
: to respond especially in a favorable way
can't relate to that kind of music
relatable adjective

Medical Definition


intransitive verb
re·​late ri-ˈlāt How to pronounce relate (audio)
related; relating
: to have meaningful social relationships : interact realistically
an inability to relate emotionally to othersWillow Lawson

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