Part of speech:
(Like “eat,” “try,” and “want,” all transitive verbs do something to an object.
You eat a banana, try a game, and want a new phone.
Likewise, you imbue something or someone.)
To imbue something/someone is to deeply influence it or to completely fill it.
Usually, you imbue something or someone with something else: you imbue your children with morals, you imbue a friend with hope, you imbue an object with meaning, etc.
("Imbue" comes from the Latin word for "moisten," which is why it looks like "imbibe" and why it's related to filling things up.)
imbued, imbuing, imbuement, unimbued
How to use it:
Talk about imbuing something or someone with something: imbuing the novel with a sense of magic, imbuing the players with a fiery motivation, imbuing the presidency with a spirit of urgency regarding scientific progress.
Another sentence pattern reverses the order: you can imbue something in something/someone: imbue a sense of magic in the novel, imbue a fiery motivation in the players, imbue a spirit of urgency regarding scientific progress in the presidency.
You can leave out the person or thing that's getting influenced and just mention the influencing quality, if your meaning is clear: "All these typos aren't exactly imbuing confidence." "She's trying so hard to imbue patience, but look at how her kids stomp their feet and whine when they have to wait."
Also, you can flip around the word order and talk about some quality that's imbued in something or something: the love of competition imbued in these skiers, the layers of meaning imbued in this symbol, the sense of authority imbued in those publications.
You'll notice that "imbue" is most often used in a positive, artistic, creative, or even spiritual sense. But you can certainly talk about things imbued with racism, imbued with hatred and intolerance, imbued with a reluctance to engage in hard work, imbued with a disdain for the mentally ill, etc.
The script of the movie seems mediocre at best, but thankfully the actors imbued it with humor and earnestness.
If you like philosophy, you've probably thought about how objects hold only the usefulness and meaning that we imbue them with.
To illustrate that example, here's some great dialogue from the show Firefly, created by Joss Whedon, in an episode aptly titled "Objects in Space:"
Jubal: This is her room. Simon: Yes. Jubal: It's empty. Simon: I know. Jubal: So is it still a room when it's empty? Does the room, the thing, have purpose? Or do we - what's the word? Simon: I really can't help you. Jubal: ... "imbue", that's the word.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "imbue" means when you can explain it without saying “infuse" or “influence."
Think of an important quality, belief, or value that your family helped you develop, and fill in the blanks: "My family imbued me with (a sense of / a respect for / a belief that / a desire to / a love of) _____"
Example: "My family imbued me with a deep respect for and love of animals."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
This month's game content is protected by a copyright, so I can't reprint the trivia questions here--but check out the thoughtful and thorough reference book that I got them from: Last Words of Notable People!
A Point Well Made:
Neil Gaiman: “But the magic of escapist fiction ... is that it can actually offer you a genuine escape from a bad place and, in the process of escaping, it can furnish you with armor, with knowledge, with weapons, with tools you can take back into your life to help make it better... It's a real escape – and when you come back, you come back better-armed than when you left.”
1. The opposite of IMBUE is
2. Much self-published fiction is _____, but some is absolutely imbued _____.
A. of poor quality .. with originality
B. created as a hobby .. for a large profit
C. formulaic .. against the standard literary tropes
Answers are below.
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Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Answers to review questions:
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