Open main menu



Borrowed from Late Latin assimilātus, variant of Latin assimulātus (made similar, imitated), perfect passive participle of assimulō, from ad + simulō (imitate, copy). Doublet of assemble.


  • (UK, US) IPA(key): /əˈsɪm.ɪ.leɪt/
  • (file)
  • (file)


assimilate (third-person singular simple present assimilates, present participle assimilating, simple past and past participle assimilated)

  1. (transitive) To incorporate nutrients into the body, especially after digestion.
    Food is assimilated and converted into organic tissue.
    • Isaac Newton
      Hence also animals and vegetables may assimilate their nourishment.
  2. (transitive) To incorporate or absorb (knowledge) into the mind.
    The teacher paused in her lecture to allow the students to assimilate what she had said.
    • Merivale
      His mind had no power to assimilate the lessons.
  3. (transitive) To absorb (a person or people) into a community or culture.
    The aliens in the science-fiction film wanted to assimilate human beings into their own race.
  4. (transitive) To compare to something similar. (Can we add an example for this sense?)
  5. (transitive) To bring to a likeness or to conformity; to cause a resemblance between.
    • John Bright
      to assimilate our law to the law of Scotland
    • Cowper
      Fast falls a fleecy shower; the downy flakes / Assimilate all objects.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Sir M. Hale to this entry?)
  6. (intransitive) To become similar.
  7. (intransitive) To be incorporated or absorbed into something.


  • (incorporate or absorb knowledge into the mind): process
  • (absorb a group of people into a community): integrate


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.



  1. Something that is or has been assimilated.
    • 2005, Ep Heuvelink, Tomatoes →ISBN, page 65:
      At low light intensity, high temperature delays the first flower initiation, as assimilate supply is limiting and high temperature reduces the amount of assimilate available in the plant[.]
    • 2012, A. Läuchli, R.L. Bieleski, Inorganic Plant Nutrition →ISBN, page 83:
      the growing root and ectomycorrhizas both act as assimilate sinks