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Jul 7, 2004
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Miscellaneous words

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with Anu Garg


(mi-MEE-sis, my-) Pronunciation RealAudio

noun: Imitation or mimicry.

This word has specialized senses in many fields:
Biology: The external resemblance of an organism to another to help protect it from predators.
Medicine: The appearance of symptoms of a disease in someone who doesn't have the disease, often caused by hysteria.
Arts: Imitation of life, nature, etc to produce realistic representation in literature and arts.

From Greek mimesis, from mimeisthai (to imitate). A few cousins of this word are mimic, mime, and mimosa.

"Mimesis was seldom the only purpose of art, but always a central one: to make pictures look 'real.' After photography, however, all this changed."
Richard Nilsen; Perceptions Always in Flux; The Arizona Republic (Phoenix); May 30, 2004.

"Civilizations, he wrote, are invented by a creative minority that appears from time to time and creates art, ideas, forms and substance. It forges an intellectual universe, which the non-creative majority enters by mimesis, adopting, following and embellishing, which may lead to high culture."
T.R. Fehrenbach; Creativity Builds Great Civilizations, Followed By ... Not Much; San Antonio Express-News (Texas); Jun 27, 2004.

See more usage examples of mimesis in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.


A grass-blade's no easier to make than an oak. -James Russell Lowell, poet, editor, and diplomat (1819-1891)

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