• synonyms


[mi-mee-sis, mahy-]
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  1. Rhetoric. imitation or reproduction of the supposed words of another, as in order to represent his or her character.
  2. (in literature, film, art, etc.)
    1. imitation of the real world, as by re-creating instances of human action and events or portraying objects found in nature: This movie is a mimesis of historical events.
    2. the showing of a story, as by dialogue and enactment of events.
    Compare diegesis.
  3. Biology. imitation.
  4. Zoology. mimicry.
  5. Also mimosis. Pathology.
    1. the simulation, due to hysteria, of the symptoms of a disease.
    2. the simulation of the symptoms of one disease by another.
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Origin of mimesis

1540–50; < Greek mī́mēsis ‘imitation’, equivalent to mīmē- (variant stem of mīmeîsthai ‘to copy’) + -sis -sis
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for mimesis

Historical Examples

  • What they felt was not mimesis but “participation,” unity, and community.

    Ancient Art and Ritual

    Jane Ellen Harrison

  • Even Plato, the supposed father of idealism, does not make the mimesis absolutely unreal.

  • Neither Plato nor Mr. Emerson recognizes any causative force in the mimesis.

  • The enemy that eats you is not the only one to be deceived; mimesis must also play its colour-tricks on him whom you have to eat.

    The Mason-bees

    J. Henri Fabre

  • Now go and practice your mimesis in order to receive a welcome from the Anthophora or the Chalicodoma!

    The Mason-bees

    J. Henri Fabre

British Dictionary definitions for mimesis


  1. art literature the imitative representation of nature or human behaviour
    1. any disease that shows symptoms of another disease
    2. a condition in a hysterical patient that mimics an organic disease
  2. biology another name for mimicry (def. 2)
  3. rhetoric representation of another person's alleged words in a speech
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Word Origin

C16: from Greek, from mimeisthai 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 mimesis


1540s, in rhetoric, from Greek mimesis "imitation, representation, representation by art," from mimeisthai "to imitate" (see mimeograph).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

mimesis in Medicine


(mĭ-mēsĭs, mī-)
  1. The appearance of symptoms of a disease not actually present, often caused by hysteria.
  2. Symptomatic imitation of one organic disease by another.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.