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late 14c., from Old French imbiber, embiber "to soak into," from Latin imbibere "absorb, drink in, inhale," from assimilated form of in- "into, in, on, upon" (see in- (2)) + bibere "to drink," related to potare "to drink," from PIE *po(i)- "to drink" (see potion). Figurative sense of "mentally drink in" (knowledge, ideas, etc.) was the main one in classical Latin, first attested in English 1550s. Related: Imbibed; imbibing.