Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

absorb - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

verb [transitive]     absorb pronunciation in American English
/əbˈsɔrb/    absorb pronunciation in American English
Word Forms
present tense
present participleabsorbing
past tenseabsorbed
past participleabsorbed
  1. 1
    to take in a gas, liquid, or other substance
    absorb something into something:

    Caffeine is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream.

    1. a.
      [often passive] to take in heat, light, or some other form of energy, instead of reflecting it
  2. 2
    [often passive] to make a small group, organization, etc. become part of a larger one

    Most of the refugees were absorbed by the growing service sector.

    absorb something into something:

    Since the end of the war, France had endeavored to absorb the Saar region into their country.

    be absorbed into something:

    After the war, the whole region was absorbed into the Roman Empire.

  3. 3
    to allow ideas, methods, etc. to become part of your own way of thinking or culture

    Over the centuries, they gradually absorbed Islamic ideas about design and architecture.

    His music has absorbed influences from all over the world.

  4. 4
    to learn and understand new facts, so that they become part of your knowledge

    We had to absorb a lot of new information very quickly.

  5. 5
    to reduce the harmful effects of a physical force

    Jump with your knees bent, so they absorb less impact.

    1. a.
      to deal with the harmful effects of a change, so that problems are avoided

      Oil companies say they will absorb these price rises, and not pass them on to customers.

  6. 7
    to use or need a lot of something, especially money

    My work absorbs too much of my time and energy.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter


to manipulate someone psychologically so that they begin to question their own perceptions and memories

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary

Dunning-Kruger effect

the phenomenon by which an incompetent person is too incompetent to understand his own incompetence

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play