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13 Essential Literary Terms

absorb

[ab-sawrb, -zawrb] /æbˈsɔrb, -ˈzɔrb/
verb (used with object)
1.
to suck up or drink in (a liquid); soak up:
A sponge absorbs water.
2.
to swallow up the identity or individuality of; incorporate:
The empire absorbed many small nations.
3.
to involve the full attention of; to engross or engage wholly:
so absorbed in a book that he did not hear the bell.
4.
to occupy or fill:
This job absorbs all of my time.
5.
to take up or receive by chemical or molecular action:
Carbonic acid is formed when water absorbs carbon dioxide.
6.
to take in without echo, recoil, or reflection:
to absorb sound and light; to absorb shock.
7.
to take in and utilize:
The market absorbed all the computers we could build. Can your brain absorb all this information?
8.
to pay for (costs, taxes, etc.):
The company will absorb all the research costs.
9.
Archaic. to swallow up.
Origin
1480-1490
1480-90; < Latin absorbēre, equivalent to ab- ab- + sorbēre to suck in, swallow
Related forms
absorbable, adjective
absorbability, noun
nonabsorbability, noun
nonabsorbable, adjective
overabsorb, verb (used with object)
preabsorb, verb
reabsorb, verb (used with object)
unabsorbable, adjective
Can be confused
absorb, adsorb.
Synonyms
2. assimilate, consume, devour, engulf; destroy.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for absorb
  • It was that they were unable to absorb the information at all, even after the initial shock.
  • No one would ever think that plants could absorb information around them.
  • Most liquid types can also be sprayed on rose leaves, which absorb some nutrients immediately.
  • After all, capital markets there are neither deep nor liquid enough to absorb them.
  • In the end, meditation may help keep your brain focused and help you absorb more information than you otherwise would.
  • It occurs when the body can't properly absorb the vitamin from the intestinal tract.
  • Depending on the project, colleges may have to absorb the costs when pledges don't come through as expected.
  • It would be better, of course, if chlorophyll could absorb light across the whole of the visible spectrum.
  • South-facing windows and a cement floor absorb and retain solar energy for home heating.
  • The polymers can also absorb seven times as much heat as the ceramics.
British Dictionary definitions for absorb

absorb

/əbˈsɔːb; -ˈzɔːb/
verb (transitive)
1.
to soak or suck up (liquids)
2.
to engage or occupy (the interest, attention, or time) of (someone); engross
3.
to receive or take in (the energy of an impact)
4.
(physics) to take in (all or part of incident radiated energy) and retain the part that is not reflected or transmitted
5.
to take in or assimilate; incorporate
6.
to accept and find a market for (goods, etc)
7.
to pay for as part of a commercial transaction: the distributor absorbed the cost of transport
8.
(chem) to cause to undergo a process in which one substance, usually a liquid or gas, permeates into or is dissolved by a liquid or solid: porous solids absorb water, hydrochloric acid absorbs carbon dioxide Compare adsorb
Derived Forms
absorbability, noun
absorbable, adjective
Word Origin
C15: via Old French from Latin absorbēre to suck, swallow, from ab-1 + sorbēre to suck
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for absorb
v.

early 15c., from Middle French absorber (Old French assorbir, 13c.), from Latin absorbere "to swallow up," from ab- "from" (see ab-) + sorbere "suck in," from PIE root *srebh- "to suck, absorb" (cf. Armenian arbi "I drank," Greek rhopheo "to sup greedily up, gulp down," Lithuanian srebiu "to drink greedily"). Figurative meaning "to completely grip (one's) attention" is from 1763. Related: Absorbed; absorbing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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absorb in Medicine

absorb ab·sorb (əb-sôrb', -zôrb')
v. ab·sorbed, ab·sorb·ing, ab·sorbs

  1. To take in by absorption.

  2. To reduce the intensity of transmitted light.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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