Definition of initiate in English:

Share this entry



Pronunciation: /iˈniSHēˌāt/
[with object]
1Cause (a process or action) to begin: he proposes to initiate discussions on planning procedures
More example sentences
  • The process begins with initiating the microscopic process under study.
  • The report proposed that the authority initiate a procurement process to enable anyone to put forward any technologies for waste disposal.
  • In 1999 the former Northern Municipality Local Council began to initiate development.
begin, start (off), commence;
institute, inaugurate, launch, instigate, establish, set up, start the ball rolling on;
originate, pioneer
informal kick off, spark
2Admit (someone) into a secret or obscure society or group, typically with a ritual: she had been formally initiated into the sorority
More example sentences
  • It was like being initiated into some secret society being taken to it.
  • Rennie, whose grandfather and father were both members, was initiated into the society when he was just 15.
  • She had been initiated into the secrets at the age of sixteen and told of their goals and their reason for existence.
2.1 (as plural noun the initiated) A small group of people who share obscure knowledge: he flies over an airway marker beacon, known as a “fix” to the initiated
More example sentences
  • They introduce rules of engagement and silly words to enhance a sense of self-importance among the initiated.
  • They are a mark of respect and accomplishment, which only the initiated truly appreciate.
  • The rules are simple to the initiated, mind-boggling to the novice.
2.2 (initiate someone in/into) Introduce someone to (a particular activity or skill), especially a difficult or obscure one: they were initiated into the mysteries of trigonometry
More example sentences
  • As they become better acquainted, Snow Flower initiates Lily into a system of code-writing used solely between women.
  • I had been working as an overseer of cattle for a few weeks and had spent the last few days initiating her into her new role.
  • It was he who initiated Bensemann into the dark art of English dancing.
teach about, instruct in, tutor in, school in, prime in, ground in;
familiarize with, acquaint with;
informal show someone the ropes in/within


Pronunciation: /iˈniSHēət/
A person who has been initiated into an organization or activity, typically recently: initiates of the Shiva cult [as modifier]: the initiate Marines
More example sentences
  • I had a conversation with a student on my campus who was a recent initiate of an organization.
  • Its second task, in short, is to make activists of baptismal initiates.
  • For centuries these paintings were reserved for sacred ceremonies and the eyes of the initiates and participants only.
novice, starter, beginner, newcomer;
student, pupil, learner, trainee, apprentice;
recruit, new recruit, raw recruit, tyro, neophyte;
postulant, novitiate
informal rookie, newbie, new kid (on the block), greenhorn



Pronunciation: /iˈniSH(ē)əˌtôrē/
Example sentences
  • Before explaining some of the events that I witnessed and participated in while in this performance space I would like to return and examine the temporal states of this initiatory experience.
  • You need to take certain oaths, read prescribed texts, pass tests, and undergo initiatory rites.
  • In that great initiatory arc of my life, I stood, in a wedding reception line facing the great archetypal losses: death of a loved one, end of an affair, and passage from youth to - what?


Mid 16th century (sense 2 of the verb): from Latin initiat- 'begun', from the verb initiare, from initium 'beginning'.

Words that rhyme with initiate

officiate, propitiate, vitiate novitiate, patriciate
Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Related Words