[ ab-sawrb, -zawrb ]
See synonyms for: absorbabsorbedabsorbingabsorbable on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object)
  1. to suck up or drink in (a liquid); soak up: A sponge absorbs water.

  2. to swallow up the identity or individuality of; incorporate: The empire absorbed many small nations.

  1. to involve the full attention of; to engross or engage wholly: so absorbed in a book that he did not hear the bell.

  2. to occupy or fill: This job absorbs all of my time.

  3. to take up or receive by chemical or molecular action: Carbonic acid is formed when water absorbs carbon dioxide.

  4. to take in without echo, recoil, or reflection: to absorb sound and light; to absorb shock.

  5. to take in and utilize: The market absorbed all the computers we could build. Can your brain absorb all this information?

  6. to pay for (costs, taxes, etc.): The company will absorb all the research costs.

  7. Archaic. to swallow up.

Origin of absorb

First recorded in 1480–90; from Latin absorbēre, from ab- ab- + sorbēre “to suck in, swallow”

Other words for absorb

Other words from absorb

  • ab·sorb·a·ble, adjective
  • ab·sorb·a·bil·i·ty, noun
  • non·ab·sorb·a·bil·i·ty, noun
  • non·ab·sorb·a·ble, adjective
  • o·ver·ab·sorb, verb (used with object)
  • pre·ab·sorb, verb
  • re·ab·sorb, verb (used with object)
  • un·ab·sorb·a·ble, adjective

Words that may be confused with absorb

Words Nearby absorb

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use absorb in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for absorb


/ (əbˈsɔːb, -ˈzɔːb) /

  1. to soak or suck up (liquids)

  2. to engage or occupy (the interest, attention, or time) of (someone); engross

  1. to receive or take in (the energy of an impact)

  2. physics to take in (all or part of incident radiated energy) and retain the part that is not reflected or transmitted

  3. to take in or assimilate; incorporate

  4. to accept and find a market for (goods, etc)

  5. to pay for as part of a commercial transaction: the distributor absorbed the cost of transport

  6. 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

Origin of absorb

C15: via Old French from Latin absorbēre to suck, swallow, from ab- 1 + sorbēre to suck

Derived forms of absorb

  • absorbability, noun
  • absorbable, adjective

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