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[im-i-teyt] /ˈɪm ɪˌteɪt/
verb (used with object), imitated, imitating.
to follow or endeavor to follow as a model or example:
to imitate an author's style; to imitate an older brother.
to mimic; impersonate:
The students imitated the teacher behind her back.
to make a copy of; reproduce closely.
to have or assume the appearance of; simulate; resemble.
Origin of imitate
1525-35; < Latin imitātus past participle of imitārī to copy, presumably a frequentative akin to the base of imāgō image
Related forms
imitator, noun
nonimitating, adjective
overimitate, verb (used with object), overimitated, overimitating.
preimitate, verb (used with object), preimitated, preimitating.
unimitated, adjective
unimitating, adjective
well-imitated, adjective
2. ape, mock. 3. Imitate, copy, duplicate, reproduce all mean to follow or try to follow an example or pattern. Imitate is the general word for the idea: to imitate someone's handwriting, behavior. To copy is to make a fairly exact imitation of an original creation: to copy a sentence, a dress, a picture. To duplicate is to produce something that exactly resembles or corresponds to something else; both may be originals: to duplicate the terms of two contracts. To reproduce is to make a likeness or reconstruction of an original: to reproduce a 16th-century theater. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for imitate
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • If he is so strong in the arm and active as is reported, I desire he will imitate me.

    The Dead Boxer William Carleton
  • I shot the question at him and tried to imitate gimlets with my eyes.

    It Happened in Egypt C. N. Williamson
  • Naturally enough what he tried to do was to imitate the action of the hand in sewing.

    Historic Inventions Rupert S. Holland
  • I desire to imitate the committee in their refinement and delicacy of distinction.

    Slavery Ordained of God Rev. Fred A. Ross, D.D.
  • With him and after him came many followers who strove to imitate his "terrible style," but they did not succeed any too well.

British Dictionary definitions for imitate


verb (transitive)
to try to follow the manner, style, character, etc, of or take as a model: many writers imitated the language of Shakespeare
to pretend to be or to impersonate, esp for humour; mimic
to make a copy or reproduction of; duplicate; counterfeit
to make or be like; resemble or simulate: her achievements in politics imitated her earlier successes in business
Derived Forms
imitable, adjective
imitability, imitableness, noun
imitator, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin imitārī; see image
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 imitate

1530s, a back-formation from imitation or imitator, or else from Latin imitatus. Related: Imitated; imitating. An Old English word for this was æfterhyrigan.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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