In the study of language, and particularly phonetics, assimilation has a very precise meaning. When a letter (sound) is influenced by the letter (sound) before or after it so that it changes its sound (and/or spelling), it is said to be assimilated. (The word 'assimilated' is itself an example of this; it is derived from the Latin prefix ad-, meaning 'to', and simil- meaning 'like'; but instead of being '
adsimilated', it has the easier pronunciation, repeated in the spelling, of 'assimilated'.
- In general, the etymological meaning 'to make like', 'to cause to resemble' can be applied to other features of language.
- For other uses of assimilate and its derivatives, see assimilation.