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[ab-sawr-bing, -zawr-] /æbˈsɔr bɪŋ, -ˈzɔr-/
extremely interesting; deeply engrossing:
an absorbing drama.
Origin of absorbing
First recorded in 1745-55; absorb + -ing2
Related forms
absorbingly, adverb
nonabsorbing, adjective
unabsorbing, adjective
unabsorbingly, adverb


[ab-sawrb, -zawrb] /æbˈsɔrb, -ˈzɔrb/
verb (used with object)
to suck up or drink in (a liquid); soak up:
A sponge absorbs water.
to swallow up the identity or individuality of; incorporate:
The empire absorbed many small nations.
to involve the full attention of; to engross or engage wholly:
so absorbed in a book that he did not hear the bell.
to occupy or fill:
This job absorbs all of my time.
to take up or receive by chemical or molecular action:
Carbonic acid is formed when water absorbs carbon dioxide.
to take in without echo, recoil, or reflection:
to absorb sound and light; to absorb shock.
to take in and utilize:
The market absorbed all the computers we could build. Can your brain absorb all this information?
to pay for (costs, taxes, etc.):
The company will absorb all the research costs.
Archaic. to swallow up.
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.
2. assimilate, consume, devour, engulf; destroy. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for absorbing
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • These concealed meetings, once begun, became an absorbing excitement.

    Malbone Thomas Wentworth Higginson
  • Marriage might be the absorbing duty of some women, but was it necessarily hers?

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • It would mean a long summer of interesting and absorbing I work for her and for Katy.

    Her Father's Daughter Gene Stratton-Porter
  • She did not wish to be unkind, but her one absorbing idea at this moment was of solitude.

    The Dream Emile Zola
  • He will be the power behind the tents, and I will be in them, absorbing all the credit.

    It Happened in Egypt C. N. Williamson
British Dictionary definitions for absorbing


/əbˈsɔːbɪŋ; -ˈzɔːb-/
occupying one's interest or attention; engrossing; gripping
Derived Forms
absorbingly, adverb


/əbˈsɔːb; -ˈzɔːb/
verb (transitive)
to soak or suck up (liquids)
to engage or occupy (the interest, attention, or time) of (someone); engross
to receive or take in (the energy of an impact)
(physics) to take in (all or part of incident radiated energy) and retain the part that is not reflected or transmitted
to take in or assimilate; incorporate
to accept and find a market for (goods, etc)
to pay for as part of a commercial transaction: the distributor absorbed the cost of transport
(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 absorbing



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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absorbing 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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