[ab-sawr-bing, -zawr-]


extremely interesting; deeply engrossing: an absorbing drama.

Origin of absorbing

First recorded in 1745–55; absorb + -ing2
Related formsab·sorb·ing·ly, adverbnon·ab·sorb·ing, adjectiveun·ab·sorb·ing, adjectiveun·ab·sorb·ing·ly, adverb


[ab-sawrb, -zawrb]

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.

Origin of absorb

1480–90; < Latin absorbēre, equivalent to ab- ab- + sorbēre to suck in, swallow
Related formsab·sorb·a·ble, adjectiveab·sorb·a·bil·i·ty, nounnon·ab·sorb·a·bil·i·ty, nounnon·ab·sorb·a·ble, adjectiveo·ver·ab·sorb, verb (used with object)pre·ab·sorb, verbre·ab·sorb, verb (used with object)un·ab·sorb·a·ble, adjective
Can be confusedabsorb adsorb

Synonyms for absorb

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for absorbing

Contemporary Examples of absorbing

Historical Examples of absorbing

  • These concealed meetings, once begun, became an absorbing excitement.


    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



occupying one's interest or attention; engrossing; gripping
Derived Formsabsorbingly, adverb


verb (tr)

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 transactionthe 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 solidporous solids absorb water; hydrochloric acid absorbs carbon dioxide Compare adsorb
Derived Formsabsorbability, nounabsorbable, adjective

Word Origin for absorb

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

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

absorbing in Medicine




To take in by absorption.
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.