verb (used with object), im·i·tat·ed, im·i·tat·ing.

to follow or endeavor to follow as a model or example: to imitate an author's style; to imitate an older brother.
to mimic; impersonate: The students imitated the teacher behind her back.
to make a copy of; reproduce closely.
to have or assume the appearance of; simulate; resemble.

Origin of imitate

1525–35; < Latin imitātus past participle of imitārī to copy, presumably a frequentative akin to the base of imāgō image
Related formsim·i·ta·tor, nounnon·im·i·tat·ing, adjectiveo·ver·im·i·tate, verb (used with object), o·ver·im·i·tat·ed, o·ver·im·i·tat·ing.pre·im·i·tate, verb (used with object), pre·im·i·tat·ed, pre·im·i·tat·ing.un·im·i·tat·ed, adjectiveun·im·i·tat·ing, adjectivewell-im·i·tat·ed, adjective

Synonyms for imitate

2. ape, mock. 3. Imitate, copy, duplicate, reproduce all mean to follow or try to follow an example or pattern. Imitate is the general word for the idea: to imitate someone's handwriting, behavior. To copy is to make a fairly exact imitation of an original creation: to copy a sentence, a dress, a picture. To duplicate is to produce something that exactly resembles or corresponds to something else; both may be originals: to duplicate the terms of two contracts. To reproduce is to make a likeness or reconstruction of an original: to reproduce a 16th-century theater. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for imitate

Contemporary Examples of imitate

Historical Examples of imitate

  • If we imitate Lydia in diligence, let us not forget to imitate her in piety.

  • I shot the question at him and tried to imitate gimlets with my eyes.

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson

  • I desire to imitate the committee in their refinement and delicacy of distinction.

    Slavery Ordained of God

    Rev. Fred A. Ross, D.D.

  • Here David ended his instructions for the time; and I will imitate him.


    Theodor Hertzka

  • I loved and admired him to a degree of enthusiasm, and of course strove to imitate him.

British Dictionary definitions for imitate


verb (tr)

to try to follow the manner, style, character, etc, of or take as a modelmany writers imitated the language of Shakespeare
to pretend to be or to impersonate, esp for humour; mimic
to make a copy or reproduction of; duplicate; counterfeit
to make or be like; resemble or simulateher achievements in politics imitated her earlier successes in business
Derived Formsimitable, adjectiveimitability or imitableness, nounimitator, noun

Word Origin for imitate

C16: from Latin imitārī; see image
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 imitate

1530s, a back-formation from imitation or imitator, or else from Latin imitatus. Related: Imitated; imitating. An Old English word for this was æfterhyrigan.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper