[ roo-muh-neyt ]
/ ˈru məˌneɪt /

verb (used without object), ru·mi·nat·ed, ru·mi·nat·ing.

to chew the cud, as a ruminant.
to meditate or muse; ponder.

verb (used with object), ru·mi·nat·ed, ru·mi·nat·ing.

to chew again or over and over.
to meditate on; ponder.

Origin of ruminate

1525–35; < Latin rūminātus (past participle of rūminārī, rūmināre to ruminate), equivalent to rūmin- (stem of rūmen rumen) + -ātus -ate1


Words nearby ruminate Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020


What does ruminate mean?

To ruminate is to carefully think something over, ponder it, or meditate on it.

It can also mean to chew over and over again, as is done by ruminant animals, like cows.

In psychology, the term means to obsessively repeat thoughts or excessively think about problems.

In all cases, the process of ruminating is called rumination.

Example: After ruminating about it for months, I have decided to pursue a new career.

Where does ruminate come from?

The first records of ruminate come from the 1500s. It derives from the Latin verb rūmināre, meaning “to chew the cud.” Rūmināre comes from the Latin rūmen, which gives us the English rumen—the first of four compartments in the stomach of ruminant animals. Such animals, like cows, eat grass, swallow it, and then regurgitate it and chew it some more. When the food is regurgitated to be chewed again, it’s called cud.

You can see how this process of chewing and rechewing can be used figuratively: when you ruminate on something, you think it over. In fact, the idioms chew it over and chew the cud both refer to contemplating something for a while. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. Ruminating over a problem might give you a good perspective on it. But sometimes you might not be able to stop ruminating. Psychologists use the word to refer to obsessively repeating a particular thought or continuing to think about something, especially a problem, over and over instead of finding a solution or moving on.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to ruminate?

What are some synonyms for ruminate?

What are some words that share a root or word element with ruminate


What are some words that often get used in discussing ruminate?

How is ruminate used in real life?

Ruminate can be used in both positive and negative ways: it can refer to thoroughly thinking something over, or to overthinking it.



Try using ruminate!

Is ruminate used correctly in the following sentence? 

My insomnia gets worse when I ruminate about all the mistakes I’ve ever made.

Example sentences from the Web for ruminate

British Dictionary definitions for ruminate

/ (ˈruːmɪˌneɪt) /


(of ruminants) to chew (the cud)
(when intr , often foll by upon, on, etc) to meditate or ponder (upon)

Derived forms of ruminate

rumination, nounruminative, adjectiveruminatively, adverbruminator, noun

Word Origin for ruminate

C16: from Latin rūmināre to chew the cud, from rumen
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