English edit

Etymology edit

From Latin incubātus, past participle of incubō (to hatch), from in- (on) + cubō (to lie).

Pronunciation edit

  • IPA(key): /ˈɪŋkjʊbeɪt/
  • (file)

Verb edit

incubate (third-person singular simple present incubates, present participle incubating, simple past and past participle incubated)

  1. (transitive) To brood, raise, or maintain eggs, organisms, or living tissue through the provision of ideal environmental conditions.
    • 1907, “Nesting Habits of the Passenger Pigeon”, in W. B. Mershon, editor, The Passenger Pigeon[1]:
      The places where the birds are nesting are interesting spots to visit. Both parents incubate and the scene is animated as the birds fly about in all directions.
    • 1975, Catherine Marshall, Adventures in Prayer, New York: Ballantine Books, page 46:
      Part of our problem in praying for our children, he suggested, is the time lage, the necessary slow maturation of our prayers. But that's the way of God's rhythm in nature. For instance, the hen must patiently sit on her eggs to incubate them before the baby chicks hatch.
    • 1985, Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian [] , →OCLC:
      The mother dead these fourteen years did incubate in her own bosom the creature who would carry her off.
    • 2004, A. J. Jacobs, The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World, New York: Simon & Schuster, page 50:
      The female cichlid fish are called "mouth breeders," which means they incubate eggs in their mouth.
  2. (transitive, figurative) To incubate metaphorically; to ponder an idea slowly and deliberately as if in preparation for hatching it.
    • 1908 September – 1909 September, Jack London, chapter XXIII, in Martin Eden, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company, published September 1909, →OCLC:
      It was a habit he developed, of incubating and maturing his thought upon a subject, and of then rushing into the type-writer with it.
    • 1992, Sheila Davis, The Songwriters Idea Book: 40 Strategies to Excite Your Imagination, Help You Design Distinctive Songs, and Keep Your Creative Flow, Cincinnati: Writer's Digest Books, page 96:
      When you've got your theme–let the concept incubate. Walk around with it, sleep on it.

Derived terms edit

Translations edit

Anagrams edit

Italian edit

Etymology 1 edit

Verb edit


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

Etymology 2 edit

Participle edit

incubate f pl

  1. feminine plural of incubato

Anagrams edit

Latin edit

Verb edit


  1. second-person plural present active imperative of incubō

Spanish edit

Verb edit


  1. second-person singular voseo imperative of incubar combined with te