[ uh-sim-uh-ley-shuhn ]
See 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.

  1. the process of adopting the language and culture of a dominant social group or nation, or the state of being socially integrated into the culture of the dominant group in a society: assimilation of immigrants into American life.

  2. Physiology. the conversion of absorbed food into the substance of the body.

  3. Botany. the total process of plant nutrition, including photosynthesis and the absorption of raw materials.

  4. Sociology. the merging of cultural traits from previously distinct cultural groups, not involving biological amalgamation.

  5. 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; from Latin assimilātiōn- (stem of assimilātiō ). See assimilate, -ion

Other words from assimilation

  • an·ti·as·sim·i·la·tion, noun, adjective
  • non·as·sim·i·la·tion, noun
  • re·as·sim·i·la·tion, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use assimilation in a sentence

  • A striking illustration of non-assimilation and the attendant perils may be found in Pennsylvania.

    Aliens or Americans? | Howard B. Grose
  • The second type is "small-pox" and is caused by the non-assimilation of the nitrogenized element of meat, or gelatinous elements.

    The White Spark | Orville Livingston Leach

Scientific definitions for assimilation


[ ə-sĭm′ə-lāshən ]

  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.

Cultural definitions for assimilation


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.