Whether you’re talking about ideas or nutrients, assimilation describes the act of taking something in and absorbing it fully.

Assimilation comes from the Latin assimilationem, meaning “likeness" or "similarity.” People of different backgrounds and beliefs undergo assimilation when, through living together, they come to see themselves as part of a larger community, or when a small group is absorbed into, and made part of, a bigger group, such as the Irish immigrants in America in the 19th century. Assimilation can also refer to the absorption of new ideas into existing knowledge.

Definitions of assimilation

n the social process of absorbing one cultural group into harmony with another

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Americanisation, Americanization
assimilation into American culture
Anglicisation, Anglicization
the act of anglicizing; making English in appearance
Europeanisation, Europeanization
assimilation into European culture
Westernisation, Westernization
assimilation of Western culture; the social process of becoming familiar with or converting to the customs and practices of Western civilization
Type of:
social process
a process involved in the formation of groups of persons

n the state of being assimilated; people of different backgrounds come to see themselves as part of a larger national family

Type of:
a state involving mutual dealings between people or parties or countries

n a linguistic process by which a sound becomes similar to an adjacent sound

Type of:
linguistic process
a process involved in human language

n the process of absorbing nutrients into the body after digestion

anabolism, constructive metabolism
the synthesis in living organisms of more complex substances (e.g., living tissue) from simpler ones together with the storage of energy
abnormal absorption of nutrients from the digestive tract
Type of:
biological process, organic process
a process occurring in living organisms

n the process of assimilating new ideas into an existing cognitive structure

Type of:
the gradual process of acquiring knowledge

n in the theories of Jean Piaget: the application of a general schema to a particular instance

Type of:
developmental learning
learning that takes place as a normal part of cognitive development

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