Definition of imbibe in English:



[with object]humorous, formal
  • 1Drink (alcohol)

    ‘they were imbibing far too many pitchers of beer’
    • ‘26% of Americans who drink alcohol admit they sometimes imbibe more than they should.’
    • ‘The company claims that if you take this pill, you will need less alcohol to stay drunk, so will imbibe less.’
    • ‘But, whatever the reason, men no longer imbibe alcohol so freely, especially during the day, as they did a few years ago.’
    • ‘Food was eaten, alcohol imbibed, shops toured and art appraised.’
    • ‘Research has found that children who imbibe soft drinks tend to consume more calories than those who don't.’
    drink, consume, sup, sip, quaff, swallow, down, guzzle, gulp, gulp down, swill, lap, slurp
    drink alcohol, drink, take strong drink, indulge, tipple, swill
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Absorb or assimilate (ideas or knowledge)
      ‘if one does not imbibe the culture one cannot succeed’
      • ‘I wonder if young medics busy imbibing knowledge and collecting degrees will see some simple truths: There is a need for more doctors in Community Medicine; and we badly want good General Practitioners.’
      • ‘We read poems by our predecessors to imbibe the experience of life as captured by them.’
      • ‘The Mongols may have imbibed ideas about manoeuvre warfare from captive Chinese, but it is more likely they did it by instinct.’
      • ‘The play encourages young minds to question existing norms and the children have managed to imbibe the thought of the play.’
      • ‘When they went to summer camps, guards patrolled the perimeter and the inmates spent every waking moment imbibing the thoughts of the master.’
      assimilate, absorb, soak up, take in, digest, ingest, drink in, learn, acquire, grasp, gain, pick up, familiarize oneself with
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Botany (especially of seeds) absorb (water) into ultramicroscopic spaces or pores.
      • ‘Dry seeds were allowed to imbibe water at 0°C or 22°C for 2 h and then they were placed on solidified growth medium.’
      • ‘Seeds which had loose and damaged seed coats imbibed water very rapidly and were discarded during the first hour of imbibition.’
      • ‘As the seeds take approximately 24 h to imbibe water, a distinct enlargement of the cell wall was observed from day 1 to day 2.’
      • ‘Until a seed imbibes water and begins to grow, weeders and cultivators have little effect.’
      • ‘A permeable seed imbibes water readily when available, while an impermeable one does not take up water for days or longer.’
    3. 1.3Botany Place (seeds) in water in order for them to absorb it.
      • ‘Large seeds were imbibed in deionized water overnight.’
      • ‘Seeds were imbibed under tap water for 5 h and kept at 4°C for 15 h to promote synchronized germination.’
      • ‘Seeds were imbibed in aerated water overnight and planted in pots filled with soil.’
      • ‘When seeds are imbibed with water, the cells in the cotyledon tissues begin to expand quickly.’
      • ‘Seeds were imbibed in water overnight and then sown on absorbent paper in plastic trays and allowed to germinate in the dark for 6 d at which stage the hypocotyls were harvested.’


Late Middle English (in the senses ‘absorb or cause to absorb moisture’ and ‘take into solution’): from Latin imbibere, from in- ‘in’ + bibere ‘to drink’.