Definition of emergent in US English:



  • 1In the process of coming into being or becoming prominent.

    ‘the emergent democracies of eastern Europe’
    • ‘Newly emergent communities will employ the tools of democracy to acquire power, and having done so, will preserve democratic institutions that served them so well.’
    • ‘The Community responded to the other emergent democracies of Central and Eastern Europe with association agreements and aid.’
    • ‘By comparing stages of oral language development to similar stages of writing development, parents may better understand the emergent writing process.’
    • ‘It seems a great shame that there is an almost total absence of awareness of the emergent East Asian music scene, especially that of China, in Europe and America.’
    • ‘It is consistent with qualitative research methods that the focus of the study may be further shaped in process by the emergent findings.’
    • ‘The sell then, becomes an ideological process, emergent in practices of dramatic performance and socially ritualized behavior.’
    • ‘While the local media is more than happy to glorify our emergent hip-hop scene they seem a little more troubled when it comes to dealing with a band who manage to balance indie with its supposed antithesis; bubblegum pop.’
    • ‘South Korea's government is an emergent democracy, and Seoul - Korea's largest city - is its capital.’
    • ‘In this respect, links can be made to the pioneering work of the Organization of American States Commission in developing and strengthening emergent democracies in a precariously unstable region.’
    • ‘It is in this process that an emergent middle class forms ‘off the backs of others.’’
    • ‘The article draws on both primary and secondary data to examine the media's role in an emergent democracy.’
    • ‘During this process, emergent themes were identified.’
    • ‘The true reflection of the reality of development for the emergent economies is in the interests of the pressure groups within the WTO and other world bodies.’
    • ‘Too much pressure now could help to derail Indonesia's emergent democracy.’
    • ‘I guess in this case, the implicit argument is that the failure - if that's what it is - of Dean's populist revolt should be laid at the feet of the bloggers and the emergent democracy vanguard.’
    • ‘Feather morphology is an emergent feature of these processes, plus the assembly mechanism inherent in the follicle.’
    • ‘In the case of Bush's second term, the decision of the US electorate will undoubtedly, as it already has, impact negatively on fragile and emergent democracies the world over.’
    • ‘Most of all, Adam offers an intelligent contribution to recent discussions of emergent democracy - challenging us to imagine a world of flow and ethics.’
    • ‘The story is created from the emergent creative process of the community as a whole.’
    • ‘It's quite another to deftly juggle the nuances of presidential behavior in a newly emergent democracy.’
    emerging, beginning, coming out, arising, dawning
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Philosophy (of a property) arising as an effect of complex causes and not analyzable simply as the sum of their effects.
      ‘one such emergent property is the ability, already described, of an established ecosystem to repel an invading species’
      • ‘As he notes, on this construal, emergent properties will include both relational and non-relational properties.’
      • ‘But it may well be that intelligence and consciousness are emergent properties rather than located in specific centres of the brain.’
      • ‘Thus, from the beginning, Collins is arguing that consciousness is an emergent property, i.e. a property had by the whole, but not by the parts that compose that whole.’
      • ‘Since no single activity is responsible for undesired emergent properties of complex systems, such problems are intractable to our pluralistic political processes.’
      • ‘However, that allows for the possibility that consciousness, as an emergent property, can take us in a new direction, exhibit behaviours which far exceed the relatively small change which produced it.’
  • 2Ecology
    Of or denoting a plant which is taller than the surrounding vegetation, especially a tall tree in a forest.

    • ‘The canopy is 30-35 m tall, with emergent Agathis atropurpurea on the upper slopes.’
    • ‘The forest canopy is largely open, with few emergent trees.’
    • ‘In summer, nesting habitat is small wetlands with emergent vegetation in boreal forests and parklands.’
    • ‘The more mature forest reached a canopy height of 25-30 m, with emergent trees to 40 m.’
    • ‘Main emergent trees are Nothofagus nitida, Drimys winteri, and Eucryphia cordifolia.’
    1. 2.1 Of or denoting a water plant with leaves and flowers that appear above the water surface.
      • ‘Floating, or built up from the bottom, the nest is a dense mat of plant material anchored to emergent vegetation.’
      • ‘Lowering the water levels in spring stimulated emergent vegetation and raising levels in late summer maintained waterfowl feeding areas.’
      • ‘Together, the male and female Western Grebe build a floating nest made of heaps of plant material anchored to emergent vegetation in a shallow area of a marsh.’
      • ‘Both male and female help build a floating nest made of plant material and anchored to emergent vegetation.’
      • ‘On the other hand, newly hatched ducklings are very dependent on emerging insects encountered on the water surface or on emergent plants, availability of which may be weather dependent.’


  • 1Philosophy
    An emergent property.

    • ‘The memories are not of ongoing conditions but of emergents of new conditions willed by the Initiator against the circumstances over which Israel has no control.’
  • 2Ecology
    An emergent tree or other plant.

    • ‘The forest canopy is usually between 15-30 m high, but some trees may be as tall as 35 m, although almost no emergents occur.’
    • ‘Areas with persistently high water tables generally have Sphagnum spp. as the predominant ground cover, with Eriophorum virginicum L., Juncus acuminatus Michx., and J. effusus as important emergents.’
    • ‘The occurrence of radial increases in B. papyrifera and P. strobus, which are often canopy emergents, suggests that it is overall adaptive strategy that is important rather than position (canopy vs. subcanopy) of any individual tree.’
    • ‘This community was dominated by the emergents Polygonum hydropiperoides, Lindernia dubia, Penthorum sedoides, Ludwigia palustris, Echinochloa muricata var. muricata, Scirpus validus, Juncus effusus, and Eleocharis smallii.’
    • ‘Most vegetation occurs as emergents, or hydrophilic species along the river's edge.’


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘occurring unexpectedly’): from Latin emergent- ‘arising from’, from the verb emergere (see emerge).