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See also: translaté




From Middle English translaten, borrowed from Old French translater, tranlater, borrowed itself from Latin trānslātus, past participle of trānsferō, from trāns- (across) + lātus (borne, carried), irregular perfect passive participle of verb ferō (I bear). Displaced native Middle English awenden (to change, translate) (from Old English āwendan), Middle English irecchen (to explain, expound, interpret) (from Old English ġereċċan), and Old English ġeþēodan (to engage in, translate).


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translate (third-person singular simple present translates, present participle translating, simple past and past participle translated)

  1. (transitive) To change text (as of a book, document, movie) from one language to another.
    • 2002, Matt Cyr, Something to Teach Me: Journal of an American in the Mountains of Haiti, Educa Vision, Inc., ISBN 1584321385, 25:
      His English is still in its beginning stages, like my Creole, but he was able to translate some Creole songs that he's written into English—not the best English, but English nonetheless.
    Hans translated my novel into Welsh.
  2. (intransitive) To change text from one language to another; to have a translation into another language.
    • 2004, Ted Jones, The French Riviera: A Literary Guide for Travellers, Tauris Parke Paperbacks (2007), ISBN 9781845114558, chapter 3, 58:
      However appealing Antibes may be to migrant authors, indigenous ones are relatively scarce. A notable exception is Jacques Audiberti, Antibes-born novelist and prolific playwright who wrote in the turn-of-the-century surrealist style, with titles that translate as Slaughter, or In Favour of Infanticide.
    Hans translated for us while we were in Marrakesh.
    That idiom doesn't really translate.
    "Dog" translates as "chien" in French.
  3. (transitive) To change from one form or medium to another.
    The director faithfully translated their experiences to film.
    • Shakespeare
      Happy is your grace, / That can translate the stubbornness of fortune / Into so quiet and so sweet a style.
    • Macaulay
      translating into his own clear, pure, and flowing language, what he found in books well known to the world, but too bulky or too dry for boys and girls
  4. (intransitive) To change from one form or medium to another.
    Excellent writing does not necessarily translate well into film.
    His sales experience translated well into his new job as a fund-raiser.
  5. (transitive, physics) To subject a body to linear motion with no rotation.
  6. (transitive, archaic) To transfer, to move from one place or position to another.
  7. (transitive, Christianity) To transfer a holy relic from one shrine to another.
    • Evelyn
      In the chapel of St. Catharine of Sienna, they show her head — the rest of her body being translated to Rome.
  8. (transitive, Christianity) To transfer a bishop from one see to another.
    • Camden
      Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, when the king would have translated him from that poor bishopric to a better, [] refused.
    • 1792, Anthony à Wood, The History and Antiquities of the University of Oxford: In Two Books[1], volume 1, Oxford: John Gutch, OCLC 642441055, page 661:
      One hall called Civil Law Hall or School, flouriſhed about this time (though in its buildings decayed) by the care of the learned and judicious Dr. Will. Warham Principal or Moderator thereof; which he leaving this year (having before had ſeveral Deputies therein) becauſe of his preferment to the ſee of London, became void for ſome time. The year following the ſaid Warham was tranſlated to Canterbury []
  9. (transitive, Christianity) To ascend, to rise to Heaven without bodily death.
    • Bible, Heb. xi. 5
      By faith Enoch was translated, that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him.
  10. (transitive, obsolete) To entrance, to cause to lose sense or recollection.
    William was translated by the blow to the head he received, being unable to speak for the next few minutes.
  11. (transitive, music) To rearrange a song from one genre to another.
  12. (medicine) To cause to move from one body part to another, as of disease.
  13. (genetics) To generate a chain of amino acids based on the sequence of codons in an mRNA molecule.

Usage notesEdit

"Translation" is often used loosely to describe any act of conversion from one language into another, although formal usage typically distinguishes "interpretation" as the proper term for conversion of speech. Conversion of text from one orthography to another (attempting to roughly establish equivalent sound) is distinguished as "transliteration", whereas translation attempts to establish equivalent meaning. "Literal", "verbatim", or "word-for-word translation" ("metaphrase") aims to capture as much of the exact expression as possible, while "loose" or "free translation" or "paraphrase" aims to capture the general sense or artistic affect of the original text. At a certain point, however, text which has been too freely translated may be considered an "adaptation" instead.


Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit



translate (plural translates)

  1. (mathematical analysis, in Euclidean spaces) A set of points obtained by adding a given fixed vector to each point of a given set.






  1. vocative masculine singular of trānslātus

Middle EnglishEdit



  1. Alternative form of translaten