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What’s the Difference Between Immolate and Emulate?

Why Are These Words So Tricky? 

There are many instances in which multiple words may be tricky to distinguish from each other. For instance, they may have similar spellings, pronunciations, or meanings. Some word pairs are so tricky that they have all of those in common. 

With “immolate” and “emulate,” it seems that the trouble comes with their pronunciation and spelling. Although they have that in common, their meanings are vastly different, which causes big issues if you mix them up on accident. Then, there is also the odd “immulate,” but we will discuss this later.

Graphic illustrating the difference between emulate and immolate. Emulate is to imitate someone, whereas immolate refers to the offering or killing of a sacrifice.

What do “Immolate” and “Emulate” Mean? 

Immolate” is a verb that refers to the offering or killing of a sacrifice, particularly with fire. In a simple sense, it can also describe the destruction of something. It is originally derived from the Latin term “immolatus,” which loosely means sacrifice. 

On the other hand, “emulate” is a verb that means to imitate someone. In another sense, it can also mean striving to surpass someone or matching someone’s successes. It is often used concerning one’s idol or someone that is looked up to. It comes from the Latin term “aemulator,” meaning a rival with an imitative relationship. 

And What of “Immulate?”

Although we hear this word phonetically, it is simply a mispronunciation (and even worst, a misspelling) of either Immolate or emulate. The later being the case more often than the former. So if you see or hear “Immulate,” some is probably trying to say “Emulate.”

Examples Using “Immolate” and “Emulate” 

  • You must always emulate the greatness of past Nobel Peace Prize winners when you receive the award. 
  • In modern-day depictions, many women were immolated during the Salem Witch Trials. 
  • I try to emulate you whenever I get on stage! 
  • The Mayans believed one way to honor their gods was through the immolation of sacrifices.
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By Ryan Fisher

Ryan holds degrees from Pacific Lutheran University and specializes in proofreading, editing, and content writing with an emphasis on business communication.

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