• synonyms


[adjective im-bri-kit, -keyt; verb im-bri-keyt]
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  1. overlapping in sequence, as tiles or shingles on a roof.
  2. of, relating to, or resembling overlapping tiles, as decoration or drawings.
  3. Biology. overlapping like tiles, as scales or leaves.
  4. characterized by or as if by overlapping shingles.
verb (used with or without object), im·bri·cat·ed, im·bri·cat·ing.
  1. to overlap, as tiles or shingles.

Origin of imbricate

1650–60; < Late Latin imbricātus tiled with imbrices, shaped like such a tile or tiling, equivalent to imbric- (stem of imbrex) imbrex + -ātus -ate1
Related formsim·bri·cate·ly, adverbim·bri·ca·tive, adjectivenon·im·bri·cate, adjectivenon·im·bri·cate·ly, adverbnon·im·bri·cat·ed, adjectivenon·im·bri·cat·ing, adjectivenon·im·bri·ca·tive, adjectivesub·im·bri·cate, adjectivesub·im·bri·cate·ly, adverbsub·im·bri·cat·ed, adjectivesub·im·bri·ca·tive, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for imbricate

Historical Examples

  • The first and oldest of these varieties is generally called Scale or Imbricate armour.

    Armour &amp; Weapons

    Charles John Ffoulkes

  • Calyx 5-parted, valvate in the staminate flowers, imbricate in the pistillate.

  • Head small: base of the wings covered with conspicuous, lengthened, imbricate scales.

  • Scales on the back rounded, quincuncial, imbricate; those on the belly similar to those on the back and on the sides.

    Reptiles and Birds

    Louis Figuier

  • Head large, covered with small rather unequal not imbricate scales.

British Dictionary definitions for imbricate


adjective (ˈɪmbrɪkɪt, -ˌkeɪt) imbricated
  1. architect relating to or having tiles, shingles, or slates that overlap
  2. botany (of leaves, scales, etc) overlapping each other
verb (ˈɪmbrɪˌkeɪt)
  1. (tr) to decorate with a repeating pattern resembling scales or overlapping tiles
Derived Formsimbricately, adverbimbrication, noun

Word Origin

C17: from Latin imbricāre to cover with overlapping tiles, from imbrex pantile
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

Word Origin and History for imbricate


1704 (implied in imbricated), from Latin imbricatus "covered with tiles," past participle of imbricare "to cover with rain tiles" (see imbrication). As an adjective from 1650s. Related: Imbricated; imbricating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

imbricate in Medicine


  1. Having the edges overlapping in a regular arrangement like roof tiles or the scales of a fish.
Related formsim′bri•cation n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.