Anonymous:
Hi all,

Please could you tell me in simple terms what is the difference between these terms:

emulate, simulate, mimic and imitate.

Thanks a million!
Anonymous
Hi all,

Please could you tell me in simple terms what is the difference between these terms:

emulate, simulate, mimic and imitate.

Thanks a million!

Wow! I hadn't thought about how similar these four words are. The common theme is they all mean "copy" in some way. But the context and usage can be different.

emulate

This is usually used with someone as an object.

For instance, You should emulate your grandmother. She is a wonderful person.

to use someone as a model because you think that person is excellent in some way; to try to achieve desired qualities by acting like someone who has those qualities

simulate

this has the idea of copying something so that the copy pretends to be the original thing

It isn't the original thing and isn't trying to be the original thing; the aim is to appear to be the original thing.

For instance, The suitcase is made of simulated leather. (simulated leather = some other material that is made to look a lot like leather)

mimic

Webster's 21st Century Dictionary says:

1. a person who imitate mannerisms of others (noun)

2. imitate as a mimic (verb)

When Mr. Jones shaves in the morning, his young son likes to mimic him. (The young boy makes shaving motions the way his father does.)

imitate

To me, this seems to be the most general of the four words. I think it can be used in the "emulate" sense, in the "simulate" sense, and in the "mimic" sense.

Webster's 21st Century Dictionary says:

have the same characteristics as

(But there's also the idea of copying something else.)
Regular Member645


The following content is from Longman:

emulate, simulate, mimic and imitate?


emulate

[transitive]
to do something or behave in the same way as someone else, especially because you admire them [= imitate]:
He hoped to emulate the success of Wilder.



simulate

to make or produce something that is not real but has the appearance or feeling of being real:
a machine that simulates conditions in space
Interviews can be simulated in the classroom.
2 formal to pretend to have a feeling:
He found it impossible to simulate grief.


mimic

1 to copy the way someone speaks or behaves, especially in order to make people laugh [= imitate, take off]:
He could mimic all the teachers' accents.
'I'm so sorry,' she mimicked.
2 to behave or operate in exactly the same way as something or someone else:
Europe should not try to mimic Japan: we have to find our own path to successful modernisation.
The drug mimics the action of the body's own chemicals.
3HBA if an animal mimics something, it looks or sounds very like it:
a fly whose size and colour exactly mimics that of the wasp
—mimicry noun [uncountable]
He has a gift for mimicry.

imitate

1 to copy the way someone behaves, speaks, moves etc, especially in order to make people laugh:
She was a splendid mimic and loved to imitate Winston Churchill.
! Do not use imitate when you mean to do the same thing as someone else. Use copy instead: She worries that Tom will copy his brother and leave home (NOT She worries that he will imitate his brother).
2 to copy something because you think it is good:
vegetarian products which imitate meat
The Japanese have no wish to imitate Western social customs and attitudes.
—imitator noun [countable]
Full Member177
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