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c.1400, "emulation; act of copying," from Old French imitacion, from Latin imitationem (nominative imitatio) "a copying, imitation," from past participle stem of imitari "to copy, portray, imitate," from PIE *im-eto-, from root *aim- "copy" (cf. Hittite himma- "imitation, substitute"). Meaning "an artificial likeness" is from c.1600. As an adjective, from 1840.
in psychology, the reproduction or performance of an act that is stimulated by the perception of a similar act by another animal or person. Essentially, it involves a model to which the attention and response of the imitator are directed