Definition of absorb in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Take in or soak up (energy or a liquid or other substance) by chemical or physical action.

    ‘buildings can be designed to absorb and retain heat’
    ‘steroids are absorbed into the bloodstream’
    • ‘A better alternative is indoor plants, which absorb carbon dioxide and emit oxygen.’
    • ‘Ecopaint is said to work because nitrogen oxide sticks to titanium dioxide and titanium dioxide absorbs heat.’
    • ‘Cook until the rice has absorbed the stock and then add more hot stock, stirring from time to time.’
    • ‘Carbon dioxide primarily absorbs infrared energy emitted by the Earth, thus contributing to the greenhouse effect and warming the Earth's surface and the atmosphere.’
    • ‘There are three types of PPARs, which are proteins that control how the body absorbs, stores, and distributes fat.’
    • ‘Pour in white wine and reduce and start to add chicken stock slowly ladle by ladle until all the stock is absorbed by the rice.’
    • ‘If more nutrient is available than is required by the crop for maximal growth, the surplus is absorbed by the plant up to a certain limit and stored.’
    • ‘Electrons in the mineral absorb the energy from the activator and become excited.’
    • ‘It absorbs carbon dioxide and moisture from the air.’
    • ‘The refined medicines in the patch can be directly absorbed by the skin and enter the body to control the pain.’
    • ‘They do not absorb dirt or liquids, and their surfaces are much less conducive to bacterial growth than paper bills.’
    • ‘The study found that, as temperatures increase, plants absorb less carbon dioxide while microorganisms in the soil release more and more of it.’
    • ‘Let each ladleful of stock be absorbed before adding the next.’
    • ‘Calcium chloride absorbs water from the air, so is used in the prevention of dust on roads, coal, and tennis courts and as a drying agent in the laboratory.’
    • ‘Within the ozone layer, this ultraviolet energy is absorbed by a delicate balance of two chemical reactions.’
    • ‘Calcium chloride absorbs moisture from the air and thus binds the surface materials together.’
    • ‘The gases, especially carbon dioxide and methane, absorb the Earth's heat radiation and thus warm the surface, just as a blanket traps body heat.’
    • ‘Cigarette filters, which can last up to 100 years - are designed to absorb tar and other chemicals from the cigarette.’
    • ‘Molecules may change their rotational energy levels by absorbing energy from electromagnetic radiation in the microwave region of the spectrum.’
    • ‘Use chemicals such as Silica gel to absorb moisture.’
    • ‘Do not soak them; mushrooms absorb water like sponges.’
    soak up, suck up, draw in, draw up, take in, take up, blot up, mop up, sponge up, sop up
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    1. 1.1 Take in and understand fully (information, ideas, or experience)
      ‘she absorbed the information in silence’
      • ‘Whether we argue for it or against it, we have absorbed the idea.’
      • ‘Michael understood that he would never fully absorb the French experience if language were a barrier.’
      • ‘Again everything is interactive so that the visitor absorbs information while having fun.’
      • ‘To a certain extent, all through life we absorb information we understand, or about which we care, and filter the rest.’
      • ‘You must have the ability to persuade and inspire our friends to communicate and convince, to listen, to absorb the ideas of others.’
      • ‘There was a momentary pause as this information was absorbed.’
      • ‘Whether they realise it or not, they actually absorb ideas, moods, opinions and even goals from those around them.’
      • ‘Children learn by absorbing information through daily interactions and experiences with other children, adults, and the world.’
      • ‘There are limits to a toddler's abilities to absorb new experiences, he says.’
      • ‘The most decisive factor in how we absorb information, process it and assimilate it is mostly forgotten: the physiology of the human eye.’
      • ‘The very best students in our classes probably do absorb key ideas and concepts from lectures.’
      • ‘One can always absorb the ideas and relevant theory and then update the information later.’
      • ‘Still, the law has yet to fully catch up with that position, or even fully incorporate and absorb the evidence on which it was based.’
      • ‘You know how hard it is to absorb information when you're tired.’
      • ‘These experiences have made them more comfortable with absorbing new ideas and practices, including those introduced by foreigners.’
      • ‘He is a bright young man who absorbs information and experiences like a sponge.’
      • ‘Analysts must fully absorb cultural information, an area in which the intelligence community rarely excels.’
      • ‘School children absorbed information much quicker than adults and the success of the project was very much dependent on this.’
      • ‘It seems inevitable, with hindsight, that this accelerating urge to know, to understand, to absorb facts, would lead to the establishment of a major organisation.’
      • ‘Students will be assessed to find out what system of teaching suits them best. While some learn best from books, others find it easier to absorb information from discussion groups.’
      assimilate, digest, ingest, take in, imbibe, drink in, familiarize oneself with
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    2. 1.2 Take control of (a smaller or less powerful entity) and make it a part of a larger one.
      ‘the family firm was absorbed into a larger group’
      • ‘But Sir John's mantra is worth revisiting at a time when another of Scotland's institutions is absorbed into a larger entity.’
      • ‘Second, there is a debate over whether Australia can absorb large numbers of people.’
      • ‘The new town development also had to absorb an overwhelmingly large number of refugees from very different areas of the German East and Southeast.’
      • ‘On Friday, the heads of the two banks announced they had agreed to merge their banks by forming a new entity that will absorb the two banks by June next year.’
      • ‘Royal Mail insists that it could absorb the 14 per cent of mail transported by train on the roads without extra journeys.’
      • ‘The biggest difference is that over the past two decades the United States has absorbed roughly 20 million immigrants.’
      • ‘Does this help explain current concerns such as England's reluctance to be absorbed in the European Union?’
      • ‘Would one authority cover the enlarged area, or would there be a tug of war between the existing parks over who would absorb the added area?’
      • ‘In later years, CN took over the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway and other small enterprises such as the Newfoundland Railway and absorbed it into the company.’
      • ‘Bosses said that it could absorb the 14 per cent of mail transported by train on the roads without extra journeys.’
      • ‘There may be more consolidation to come, which might even see some of the smaller players absorbed into their larger rivals.’
      • ‘The poor southern state, often beset by its own natural disasters, had beds, meals and an emergency plan that helped it absorb a 2.5 percent jump in its population.’
      • ‘The 14th duke wanted a house that was big enough to absorb the world-famous Hamilton Palace collection but that was small enough for a family home.’
      • ‘He said the slate would consist of candidates who were not willing to sell out the UNC to become absorbed into some other political entity.’
      • ‘Clearly the Fed feels that growth in the economy can continue for some time before the slack in terms of labour resources is absorbed.’
      • ‘The harsh and simple answer to why Scotland voted to be absorbed in 1707 is because it was bankrupt, stony broke.’
      • ‘The command is not expected to encounter problems absorbing the missiles from the army's missile control as the missiles have been under a unified system of control for many years.’
      • ‘Once the minor powers have been absorbed in any fairly typical way, the great powers will tend to border one another in twelve pairs.’
      incorporate, assimilate, integrate, appropriate, take in, subsume, include, co-opt, swallow up
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    3. 1.3 Use or take up (time or resources)
      ‘arms spending absorbs roughly two percent of the national income’
      • ‘Too many, really; marine archaeology is a small world and any one of these wrecks could completely absorb the country's resources and expertise over several diving seasons.’
      • ‘Resources had been absorbed by the war effort, with the result that both equipment and infrastructure were in a grievous state.’
      • ‘It encountered losses from industrial action, strikes and absorbed a lot of resources.’
      • ‘The United States economy now absorbs 70 per cent of the world's savings, amounting to more than $400 billion annually in the past two years.’
      • ‘Too often, remedial actions tend to absorb resources to the detriment of preventive measures.’
      • ‘This absorbs the human resource of the police and reduces their ability to strangulate the supply route.’
      • ‘Modern warfare must be economically damaging, even for victors, since it absorbs scarce, productive resources - the opportunity cost.’
      • ‘The region absorbs 18 percent of US exports and accounts for about 21 percent of US companies' overseas investments.’
      • ‘China is among the fastest growing economies in the world, with considerable capacity to absorb surplus labor.’
      • ‘The whole idea is that nature needs a method for rapidly ridding itself of dysfunctional species that overpopulate and absorb resources too rapidly.’
      • ‘However, success in this area will take a long time and absorb substantial resources.’
      • ‘Parasitic plants may affect host fitness by absorbing resources that are essential for host growth and reproduction.’
      • ‘Will these be paid a hefty consultation fee, which will absorb the contentious surplus which started the kerfuffle?’
      • ‘Foster has spent seventeen years working on his life of Yeats and has absorbed the store of sources.’
      • ‘The actions of a few uncontrolled patients rebound on the rest of us, absorbing scarce resources and driving staff from the NHS.’
      • ‘The home market is expected to absorb around 25 per cent of the total expected output of four million lambs this year.’
      • ‘For example, the US today absorbs 10 per cent of the world's total savings to pay for its enormous consumption, yet a country like South Africa experiences capital flight.’
      • ‘By 1788, debt service alone would absorb fifty percent of annual revenue.’
      • ‘The report says that these demands are absorbing resources, thereby reducing funds for community services that could help to contain rising hospital admissions.’
      • ‘Since the US absorbs about 35 percent of the world's exports, Taiwanese manufacturers should invest in Africa and re-export products to the US, Day said.’
      use, use up, consume, take up, occupy
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    4. 1.4 Take up and reduce the effect or intensity of (sound or an impact)
      ‘deep-pile carpets absorbed all sound of the outside world’
      • ‘Its configuration helps absorb some impact in order to reduce injury to a pedestrian who is hit.’
      • ‘They are also advised to invest in a good pair of shoes that are built for absorbing the impact of road running.’
      • ‘It absorbs bumps in the road and reduces impact harshness, resulting in improved ride quality.’
      • ‘With residue, the raindrop impact is absorbed and erosion is reduced.’
      • ‘Not only does this serve to strengthen the car in a crash, but it also allows the car to absorb heavy impacts in jumps and fast driving over rough terrain.’
      • ‘That way, your joints are better prepared to absorb impacts from a variety of angles.’
      • ‘That is a matter of deliberate engineering, presumably, as the passenger seats are protected and the impact is absorbed elsewhere in the car.’
      • ‘Not only will it absorb the impact of feet and noise, it will reduce wear and tear on the rug and make vacuuming easier.’
      • ‘These soft surfaces also absorb sound and give a feeling of privileged privacy.’
      • ‘Outside, the traffic hurtles by but the vast number of shrubs and trees lining the courtyard absorb the sound and look spectacular in their autumnal foliage.’
      • ‘In an open office, its acoustic function is to absorb sound and reduce the reflection of sounds back down into the office space.’
      • ‘Larger entities can absorb this type of cost better, because they are spread over a much wider range of companies.’
      • ‘The bubble simply absorbed her most powerful attack as it began to glow with a whitish yellow light.’
      • ‘The faster taper rod takes on an alarming shape while the through-action rod absorbs the lunges of the fish and maintains the anglers control.’
      • ‘I had Doc's rifle held waist high rather than at my shoulder, which meant the kick back punched my arm out and behind and made the shot fly high, rather than being absorbed and controlled by my body.’
      • ‘The ride has a Germanic firmness about it, but passenger comfort is always well controlled, the suspension absorbing poor road surfaces in an effective way.’
      • ‘For instance, ceiling tiles that absorb sounds and reduce noise levels can cost about the same as materials that are less sound-absorbent.’
      • ‘The polyurethane material also adds support and cushioning to help absorb impact.’
      • ‘The carpets absorbed the sound of his feet landing on the floor, but Lombard stood still all the same to make certain that the Ifrit still slept.’
      • ‘It is easy to install and secure because of its weight Also, many types absorb sound and thereby add to the sound control of the room.’
      deaden, soften, cushion
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  • 2often be absorbed inTake up the attention of (someone); interest greatly.

    ‘she sat in an armchair, absorbed in a book’
    ‘the work absorbed him and continued to make him happy’
    • ‘He thinks we are so absorbed in improving our bodies that we have neglected the potential for training our minds.’
    • ‘His shirt is comically baggy on him and he's absorbed in an experiment to see if his head will fit inside the long, floppy sleeves.’
    • ‘I find it all rather endearing, like watching a small child absorbed in building a pyramid out of playing cards.’
    • ‘She managed to make it look as if she were absorbed in the book when John threw her door open.’
    • ‘This seemed alright to me and I was absorbed in the various articles in the museum.’
    • ‘He had been so absorbed in his previous works of art that she had become the second love in his life.’
    • ‘I love being so absorbed in a book that I don't hear the things going on around me.’
    • ‘So whilst he was absorbed in the game, killing zombies and such like, I was in the kitchen making my candies.’
    • ‘Incense burned near the altar and pilgrims were deeply absorbed in their prayers in front of the statue.’
    • ‘He hadn't heard her come up the stairs or enter the apartment he was so absorbed in his book.’
    preoccupy, engross, captivate, occupy, engage
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Late Middle English: from Latin absorbere, from ab- ‘from’ + sorbere ‘suck in’.