[uh-sim-uh-ley-shuh n]
See more synonyms for assimilation on
  1. the act or process of assimilating, or of absorbing information, experiences, etc.: the need for quick assimilation of the facts.
  2. the state or condition of being assimilated, or of being absorbed into something.
  3. the process of adapting or adjusting to the culture of a group or nation, or the state of being so adapted: assimilation of immigrants into American life.
  4. Physiology. the conversion of absorbed food into the substance of the body.
  5. Botany. the total process of plant nutrition, including photosynthesis and the absorption of raw materials.
  6. Sociology. the merging of cultural traits from previously distinct cultural groups, not involving biological amalgamation.
  7. Phonetics. the act or process by which a sound becomes identical with or similar to a neighboring sound in one or more defining characteristics, as place of articulation, voice or voicelessness, or manner of articulation, as in [gram-pah] /ˈgræm pɑ/ for grandpa.Compare dissimilation(def 2).

Origin of assimilation

First recorded in 1595–1605, assimilation is from the Latin word assimilātiōn- (stem of assimilātiō). See assimilate, -ion
Related formsan·ti·as·sim·i·la·tion, noun, adjectivenon·as·sim·i·la·tion, nounre·as·sim·i·la·tion, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for assimilation

Contemporary Examples of assimilation

Historical Examples of assimilation

  • My proclivities are entirely aristocratic: I have no power of assimilation with the canaille.

    Henry Dunbar

    M. E. Braddon

  • He exceeded his capacity of mental digestion and assimilation.

  • The power of assimilation which a growing nature must possess is astonishing.

    David Elginbrod

    George MacDonald

  • Many other considerations helped in this process of assimilation.

  • There were therefore no beginnings of any assimilation between them and the latter.

Word Origin and History for assimilation

early 15c., "act of assimilating," from Old French assimilacion, from Latin assimilationem (nominative assimilatio) "likeness, similarity," noun of action from past participle stem of assimilare (see assimilate). Psychological sense is from 1855.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

assimilation in Medicine


  1. The incorporation of digested substances from food into the tissues of an organism.
  2. The amalgamation and modification of newly perceived information and experiences into the existing cognitive structure.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

assimilation in Science


  1. The conversion of nutrients into living tissue; constructive metabolism.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

assimilation in Culture


The process by which a person or persons acquire the social and psychological characteristics of a group: “Waves of immigrants have been assimilated into the American culture.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.