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From Latin incubātus, past participle of incubāre (to hatch), from Latin in- (on) and cubāre (to lie).


  • IPA(key): /ˈɪŋkjʊbeɪt/
  • (file)


incubate (third-person singular simple present incubates, present participle incubating, simple past and past participle incubated)

  1. (transitive) To brood, raise, or maintain eggs, organisms, or living tissue through the provision of ideal environmental conditions.
    • 1975, Catherine Marshall, Adventures in Prayer, New York, Ballantine Books, December 1976, page 46 - Part of our problem in praying for our children, he suggested, is the time lage, the necessary slow maturation of our prayers. But that's the way of God's rhythm in nature. For instance, the hen must patiently sit on her eggs to incubate them before the baby chicks hatch.
    • 1985, Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, New York, Vintage International, May 1992, page 3 - The mother dead these fourteen years did incubate in her own bosom the creature who would carry her off.
    • 2004, A. J. Jacobs, The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World New York, Simon & Schuster, 2004, page 50 - The female cichlid fish are called "mouth breeders," which means they incubate eggs in their mouth.
  2. (transitive) To incubate metaphorically; to ponder an idea slowly and deliberately as if in preparation for hatching it.
    • 1992, Sheila Davis, The Songwriters Idea Book: 40 Strategies to Excite Your Imagination, Help You Design Distinctive Songs, and Keep Your Creative Flow, Cincinnati, Writer's Digest Books, 1992, page 96. - When you've got your theme–let the concept incubate. Walk around with it, sleep on it.

Derived terms[edit]




Etymology 1[edit]



  1. inflection of incubare:
    1. second-person plural present indicative
    2. second-person plural imperative

Etymology 2[edit]


incubate f pl

  1. feminine plural of incubato





  1. second-person plural present active imperative of incubō