[ 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.



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Origin of ruminate

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

OTHER WORDS FROM ruminate Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020


What does rumination mean?

Rumination is the process of carefully thinking something over, pondering it, or meditating on it.

In psychology, the term refers to obsessive repetition of thoughts or excessively thinking about problems. Rumination can also refer to the process of chewing over and over again, as is done by ruminant animals, like cows.

Rumination is the noun form of the verb ruminate, which can mean to think over or ponder, or to chew over and over.

Example: After much rumination and soul-searching, I have decided to pursue a new career.

Where does rumination come from?

The first records of rumination 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.

This process of chewing and rechewing is called rumination. You can see how it 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. Sometimes you might not be able to stop ruminating. Psychologists use the word rumination 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.

Rumination can also refer to a creative work that’s intended as a deep consideration of a particular topic or idea, as in The film was a melancholy rumination on the briefness of life. Its synonyms contemplation and meditation can also be used in this way.

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What are some other forms related to rumination?

  • ruminate (verb)
  • ruminations (plural)

What are some synonyms for rumination?

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


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


How is rumination used in real life?

Rumination is generally used in a neutral or positive way to refer to the process of thinking something over. When it’s used in the context of psychology, it refers to behavior that has negative effects on a person.



Try using rumination!

Is rumination used correctly in the following sentence? 

My insomnia is mainly caused by late-night rumination on my mistakes.

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