[verb em-yuh-leyt; adjective em-yuh-lit]

verb (used with object), em·u·lat·ed, em·u·lat·ing.

to try to equal or excel; imitate with effort to equal or surpass: to emulate one's father as a concert violinist.
to rival with some degree of success: Some smaller cities now emulate the major capitals in their cultural offerings.
  1. to imitate (a particular computer system) by using a software system, often including a microprogram or another computer that enables it to do the same work, run the same programs, etc., as the first.
  2. to replace (software) with hardware to perform the same task.


Obsolete. emulous.

Origin of emulate

1580–90; < Latin aemulātus, past participle of aemulārī to rival. See emulous, -ate1
Related formsem·u·la·tive, adjectiveem·u·la·tive·ly, adverbem·u·la·tor, nounnon·em·u·la·tive, adjectiveo·ver·em·u·late, verb (used with object), o·ver·em·u·lat·ed, o·ver·em·u·lat·ing.un·em·u·la·tive, adjective
Can be confusedemulate immolate

Synonyms for emulate

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

Examples from the Web for emulate

Contemporary Examples of emulate

Historical Examples of emulate

  • Impudently she strove to emulate his coolness, but did not completely succeed.


    Rafael Sabatini

  • But Straws was not called upon to emulate this classic example.

    The Strollers

    Frederic S. Isham

  • The Prince praised the deeds of his ancestors, and called upon him to emulate them.

    Red Cap Tales

    Samuel Rutherford Crockett

  • "And one that an Englishman may do well to emulate," returned Bluewater.

    The Two Admirals

    J. Fenimore Cooper

  • He determined to emulate Windsor, and he sent for Sir Carte.

    The Young Duke

    Benjamin Disraeli

British Dictionary definitions for emulate


verb (tr)

to attempt to equal or surpass, esp by imitation
to rival or compete with
to make one computer behave like (another different type of computer) so that the imitating system can operate on the same data and execute the same programs as the imitated system
Derived Formsemulative, adjectiveemulatively, adverbemulator, noun

Word Origin for emulate

C16: from Latin aemulārī, from aemulus competing with; probably related to imitārī to imitate
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 emulate

1580s, back-formation from emulation, or else from Latin aemulatus, past participle of aemulari "to rival." Related: Emulated; emulating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper