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/
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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.
    • Hence also it may be that the parts of animals and vegetables preserve their several forms and 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.
    • 1850, Charles Merivale, History of the Romans Under the Empire
      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, rare, used with "to" or "with") To liken, compare to something similar.
    • 2005 October 12, Spencer, J. R., transl., Penal Code [of France][1], Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, retrieved 2020-01-19, page 25:
      The use of an animal to kill, wound or threaten is assimilated to the use of a weapon.
  5. (transitive) To bring to a likeness or to conformity; to cause a resemblance between.
    • March 13, 1866, John Bright, The reform bill on the motion for leave to bring in the bill
      to assimilate our law in respect to the law of Scotland
    • 1782–1785, William Cowper, “(please specify the page)”, in The Task, a Poem, [], London: [] J[oseph] Johnson; [], OCLC 228757725:
      Fast falls a fleecy shower; the downy flakes / Assimilate all objects.
    • 1676, Matthew Hale, Contemplations, Moral and Divine
      it doth , by degrees , assimilate the whole inward Man to this living Principle , and conforms the Life unto it
  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




  1. inflection of assimilare:
    1. second-person plural present indicative
    2. second-person plural imperative




  1. second-person plural present active imperative of assimilō