verb (used with object)

  1. to suck up or drink in (a liquid); soak up: A sponge absorbs water.
  2. to swallow up the identity or individuality of; incorporate: The empire absorbed many small nations.
  3. to involve the full attention of; to engross or engage wholly: so absorbed in a book that he did not hear the bell.
  4. to occupy or fill: This job absorbs all of my time.
  5. to take up or receive by chemical or molecular action: Carbonic acid is formed when water absorbs carbon dioxide.
  6. to take in without echo, recoil, or reflection: to absorb sound and light; to absorb shock.
  7. to take in and utilize: The market absorbed all the computers we could build. Can your brain absorb all this information?
  8. to pay for (costs, taxes, etc.): The company will absorb all the research costs.
  9. Archaic. to swallow up.

verb (tr)

  1. to soak or suck up (liquids)
  2. to engage or occupy (the interest, attention, or time) of (someone); engross
  3. to receive or take in (the energy of an impact)
  4. physics to take in (all or part of incident radiated energy) and retain the part that is not reflected or transmitted
  5. to take in or assimilate; incorporate
  6. to accept and find a market for (goods, etc)
  7. to pay for as part of a commercial transactionthe distributor absorbed the cost of transport
  8. chem to cause to undergo a process in which one substance, usually a liquid or gas, permeates into or is dissolved by a liquid or solidporous solids absorb water; hydrochloric acid absorbs carbon dioxide Compare adsorb

early 15c., from Middle French absorber (Old French assorbir, 13c.), from Latin absorbere “to swallow up,” from ab- “from” (see ab-) + sorbere “suck in,” from PIE root *srebh- “to suck, absorb” (cf. Armenian arbi “I drank,” Greek rhopheo “to sup greedily up, gulp down,” Lithuanian srebiu “to drink greedily”). Figurative meaning “to completely grip (one’s) attention” is from 1763. Related: Absorbed; absorbing.


  1. To take in by absorption.
  2. To reduce the intensity of transmitted light.
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