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[im-prin-ting] /ɪmˈprɪn tɪŋ/
noun, Animal Behavior, Psychology
rapid learning that occurs during a brief receptive period, typically soon after birth or hatching, and establishes a long-lasting behavioral response to a specific individual or object, as attachment to parent, offspring, or site.
Origin of imprinting
1937; imprint + -ing1, translation of German Prägung, K. Lorenz's term


[n. im-print; v. im-print] /n. ˈɪm prɪnt; v. ɪmˈprɪnt/
a mark made by pressure; a mark or figure impressed or printed on something.
any impression or impressed effect:
He left the imprint of his thought on all succeeding scholars.
  1. the name of a book's publisher printed on the title page or elsewhere, usually with the place and date of publication.
  2. the statement of such information in a bibliographic description of a printed work.
  3. a name, title, or other designation by which all or certain specific books of a publisher are identified.
any marketing name used by a company or organization for a product line; brand or label.
the printer's name and address as indicated on any printed matter.
verb (used with object)
to impress (a quality, character, distinguishing mark, etc.).
to produce (a mark) on something by pressure.
to bestow, as a kiss.
to fix firmly on the mind, memory, etc.
Animal Behavior, Psychology. to acquire or establish by imprinting.
to make an imprint upon.
verb (used without object)
to make an impression; have an effect.
1325-75; im-1 + print; replacing Middle English empreynten < Middle French empreinter, derivative of empreinte, feminine past participle of empreindre < Latin imprimere to impress1
Related forms
reimprint, verb (used with object)
unimprinted, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for imprinting
  • Childcare will be difficult to automate, since much of it involves imprinting and imitating other people.
  • For decades this dilemma has spawned experiments based on imprinting behavior exhibited by several species of large birds.
  • Light waves from the two beams interfere with each other, imprinting into the plastic a hologram-a three-dimensional pattern.
  • Molecular imprinting involves synthesizing a polymer in the presence of a target molecule.
  • The beams are then recombined in the gel, imprinting the proteins with an interference pattern that stores the data.
  • Doctors believe that maternal diabetes increases children's obesity risk through what's referred to as metabolic imprinting.
  • In the last year an imprinting of sorts has been taking place on the unconscious of rock musicians.
British Dictionary definitions for imprinting


the development through exceptionally fast learning in young animals of recognition of and attraction to members of their own species or to surrogates


noun (ˈɪmprɪnt)
a mark or impression produced by pressure, printing, or stamping
a characteristic mark or indication; stamp: the imprint of great sadness on his face
the publisher's name and address, usually with the date of publication, in a book, pamphlet, etc
the printer's name and address on any printed matter
verb (ɪmˈprɪnt)
to produce (a mark, impression, etc) on (a surface) by pressure, printing, or stamping: to imprint a seal on wax, to imprint wax with a seal
to establish firmly; impress; stamp: to imprint the details on one's mind
(of young animals) to undergo the process of imprinting
Derived Forms
imprinter, noun
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 imprinting



late 14c., from Old French empreinter, from empreinte, noun use of fem. past participle of eimpreindre "to impress, imprint," from Vulgar Latin *impremere, from Latin imprimere "to impress, imprint" (see impress). As a noun from mid-15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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imprinting in Medicine

imprinting im·print·ing (ĭm'prĭn'tĭng)
A learning process occurring early in the life of a social animal in which a specific behavior pattern is established through association with a parent or other role model.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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imprinting in Science
A rapid learning process by which a newborn or very young animal establishes a behavior pattern of recognition and attraction towards other animals of its own kind, as well as to specific individuals of its species, such as its parents, or to a substitute for these. Ducklings, for example, will imprint upon and follow the first large moving object they observe. In nature, this is usually their mother, but they can be made to imprint upon other moving objects, such as a soccer ball.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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