'Imitated' vs 'Intimated': What's the Difference?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on April 10, 2023

The words ‘imitated’ and ‘intimated’ are spelled almost identically. So, what’s the difference between these words? In this article, we’ll answer that, plus you’ll learn how to pronounce both words and use them correctly in a sentence.

Need a short answer?

Here it is:

  • ‘Imitated’ comes from the word ‘imitation,’ which means copying. It can be used as an adjective, noun, or transitive verb.
  • ‘Intimated’ is a verb, and it means to hint at, suggest, or declare something.

These words might look similar, but they mean different things. Therefore, you shouldn’t use them interchangeably.

How to Use ‘Imitate’ vs. ‘Intimate’ Correctly

  • We just learned that ‘imitated’ stems from the word ‘imitation,’ which means copying.
  • We also know that ‘intimated’ means to suggest or hint at, but it could also be used to declare something.

If you want to be correct and grammatical, the best way to use ‘imitated’ is when you’re talking about copying someone or something.

  • When you’re talking about declaring something or hinting at something in a subtle way, use ‘intimated.’

Mariah Carey has a line in one of her songs where she uses this word. In her song, Clown, from the studio album, Charmbracelet, which reads:

I should’ve left it at, how you doing?

            I should’ve left it at I like your music, too and

            I should’ve never called you back when you pursued me

            I should’ve never given you my fucking two way

            I should’ve never listened to your woeful stories

            The ones I’m sure you told a thousand times before me

            You should’ve never intimated we were lovers

            When you knew very well we never even touched each other

In this verse, Mariah is famously talking about her interactions with Eminem in the early 2000s and insisting that he intimated that they were dating when they were not, at least, according to her.

‘Imitate,’ ‘Intimate,’ & ‘Intimidate’ 

So, you know that ‘imitate’ means to copy and ‘intimate’ means to imply or suggest something.

But what about intimidate? It appears to be a combination of the two words, but it’s actually got a totally different meaning than the first two words.

  • Intimidate means to scare someone.

Therefore, you should be careful not to mix these three words up.

Definition of ‘Imitated’: What Does ‘Imitated’ Mean?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘imitated’ as:

  • To follow as a pattern, model, or example.

It can also mean:

  • Mimic, counterfeit
  • To be or appear like (resemble)
  • To produce a copy of (reproduce)

Synonyms of the word include:

  • Ape
  • Emulate
  • Copy
  • Mime
  • Copycat
  • Mimic

Definition of ‘Intimated’: What Does ‘Intimated’ Mean?

The same dictionary defines ‘intimated’ as:

  • Marked by a warm friendship developing through long association.

It could also mean:

  • Suggesting informal warmth or privacy
  • Engaged in, involving, or marked by sex or sexual relations
  • Of a very personal or private nature
  • Marked by very close association, contact, or familiarity
  • Intrinsic, essential
  • Belonging to or characterizing one’s deepest nature
  • A very close friend or confidant (an intimate friend)
  • To communicate delicately and indirectly (hint)
  • To make known especially publicly or formally (announce)

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce ‘Imitated’ and ‘Intimated’

Are you unsure of how to pronounce these words?

Here’s a short guide.

To pronounce ‘imitated’ correctly, here’s the phonetic spelling:


To pronounce ‘intimated’ correctly, here’s the phonetic spelling:


How to Use ‘Imitated’ and ‘Intimated’ in a Sentence

Now that you know what both words mean and how to pronounce them, let’s see some examples of how to use them in a sentence correctly.


  • My little brother imitated me all the time when he was a toddler. Now that he’s grown up, he likes to do his own thing and doesn’t follow me around anymore.
  • I chose to imitate a famous artist for my entry into the art contest at my college. Last year, a girl who imitated a Picasso won first prize. I think I’m going to try to do a Da Vinci painting or maybe Basquiat.
  • The head cheerleader imitated my talent show performance in front of the entire high school. The whole school laughed at her impression of me while I sat there mortified.
  • I imitated the writing style of one of my favorite writers, and I won a writing contest! But now I feel like I don’t deserve it because I mimicked her writing.
  • For my Halloween costume, I imitated Michael Jackson’s Thriller getup. I looked amazing! Do you want to see pictures?
  • I imitated H.E.R. during karaoke, and my new friends were so impressed by the time I sat down. They jokingly asked for my autograph. It was such a fun night!


  • My husband’s receptionist intimated that he was in his office with another woman. So, I asked her to record his entire session. I know it might have been a little bit much, but he’s known for being unfaithful.
  • I intimated that I wanted to go out for dinner, but my girlfriend wanted to cook for me instead. I don’t mind that, but I was really craving a chicken sandwich from Chick-Fil-A.
  • You intimated that the color would be the same as in the picture. But now that I have my dress, the colors look nothing like the photo. I don’t think I’ll be ordering from your company again.
  • I intimated that I was smarter than I am just to get a date with a cute guy in my grad school program. He’s a computer engineer, and I wanted to impress him, so I stretched the truth a little. I hope my friend doesn’t let the cat out of the bag.
  • The school intimated that the trip was going to be covered for students with financial aid, but apparently, that’s not the case. I didn’t save any money, so I guess I’m not going.
  • My auntie intimated that she was going to take us to the zoo on Friday, but I guess she forgot because she never showed up. My mom’s going to call her later to make sure she’s okay because we haven’t heard from her at all.

Final Thoughts on ‘Imitated’ and ‘Intimated’

To recap, we learned the following:

  • ‘Imitated’ stems from the word ‘imitation,’ which means to copy. It can be used as an adjective, noun, or transitive verb.
  • ‘Intimated’ is a verb and it means to imply, suggest, or declare something.

Remember, these words might look similar, but they mean different things. That’s why you shouldn’t use them interchangeably.

If you ever get stuck on anything, you can always come back here for a quick review of what you learned. We’ve got a ton of other content on confusing words you might find useful as you’re learning the language. Feel free to go check it out anytime.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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