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em- +‎ body


  • IPA(key): /ɪmˈbɒdi/
    • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɒdi


embody (third-person singular simple present embodies, present participle embodying, simple past and past participle embodied)

  1. (transitive) To represent in a physical or concrete form; to incarnate or personify.
    As the car salesman approached, wearing a plaid suit and slicked-back hair, he seemed to embody sleaze.
    • 1698, Robert South, Twelve Sermons upon Several Subjects and Occasions:
      The soul, while it is embodied, can no more be divided from sin.
    • 2012 November 7, Matt Bai, “Winning a Second Term, Obama Will Confront Familiar Headwinds”, in New York Times[1]:
      The generational shift Mr. Obama once embodied is, in fact, well under way, but it will not change Washington as quickly — or as harmoniously — as a lot of voters once hoped.
  2. (transitive) To represent in some other form, such as a code of laws.
    • 2009, Andrew B. Fisher and Matthew O'Hara, “Forward”, in Andrew B. Fisher and Matthew O'Hara, editors, Imperial Subjects: Race and Identity in Colonial Latin America, page 4:
      Given these entrenched ideological assumptions about the colonial order, it is no wonder that the state and those groups with an interest in the status quo viewed with suspicion and hostility any challenges to the fixed and "natural" boundaries between different sorts of people. These attitudes were perhaps best embodied by the so-called Two Republic system of Spanish America, a sprawling collection of royal legislation, local administrative policies, and informal practices, through which Spanish colonizers attempted to separate native peoples from other colonial subjects.
    The US Constitution aimed to embody the ideals of diverse groups of people, from Puritans to Deists.
    The principle was recognized by some of the early Greek philosophers who embodied it in their systems.
  3. (transitive) To comprise or include as part of a cohesive whole; to be made up of.
    • 1961 October, “The winter timetables of British Railways”, in Trains Illustrated, page 590:
      With the exception of the Great Eastern Line, these embody the most complete systematisation of steam or diesel-operated main line services that has yet taken place in the country.
    • 1962, Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office (page 1261)
      For use in a nursery for cradling a baby to sleep, a baby cradler comprising, in combination, a stand embodying a mobile base, uprights attached to and rising perpendicularly from the base and having axially aligned bearings, [...]
  4. (intransitive) To unite in a body or mass.
    • 1794, Robert Southey, Wat Tyler. A Dramatic Poem. In Three Acts, London: [] [J. M‘Creery] for Sherwood, Neely, and Jones, [], published 1817, OCLC 362102, Act III, pages 55–56:
      Nay, my good friend—the people will remain / Embodied peaceably, till Parliament / Confirm the royal charter: tell your king so: / We will await the Charter's confirmation, / Meanwhile comporting ourselves orderly / As peaceful citizens, not risen in tumult, / But to redress their evils.
    • 1715, Homer, Iliad, translated by Alexander Pope, Book III:
      So when inclement winters vex the plain / With piercing frosts, or thick-descending rain, / To warmer seas the cranes embodied fly, / With noise, and order, through the midway sky;


Derived terms[edit]