[ im-i-teyt ]
See synonyms for: imitateimitatedimitatesimitating on

verb (used with object),im·i·tat·ed, im·i·tat·ing.
  1. to follow or endeavor to follow as a model or example: to imitate an author's style; to imitate an older brother.

  2. to mimic; impersonate: The students imitated the teacher behind her back.

  1. to make a copy of; reproduce closely.

  2. to have or assume the appearance of; simulate; resemble.

Origin of imitate

First recorded in 1525–35; from Latin imitātus, past participle of imitārī “to copy,” presumably a frequentative akin to the base of imāgō image

synonym study For imitate

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.

Other words for imitate

Other words from imitate

  • im·i·ta·tor, noun
  • non·im·i·tat·ing, adjective
  • o·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, adjective
  • un·im·i·tat·ing, adjective
  • well-im·i·tat·ed, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use imitate in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for imitate


/ (ˈɪmɪˌteɪt) /

  1. to try to follow the manner, style, character, etc, of or take as a model: many writers imitated the language of Shakespeare

  2. to pretend to be or to impersonate, esp for humour; mimic

  1. to make a copy or reproduction of; duplicate; counterfeit

  2. to make or be like; resemble or simulate: her achievements in politics imitated her earlier successes in business

Origin of imitate

C16: from Latin imitārī; see image

Derived forms of imitate

  • imitable, adjective
  • imitability or imitableness, noun
  • imitator, noun

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