from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To represent (an abstract concept) by a concrete or tangible example: "Two apples ... both instantiate the single universal redness” ( J. Holloway).

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. find an instance of (a word or particular usage of a word)
  • v. represent by an instance


Latin īnstantia, example; see instance + -ate1.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin instāntia +‎ -ate. (Wiktionary)



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  • All the quotations in the OED second edition (1989) are from philosophy, going back to 1949.

    April 9, 2010

  • I believe that this word was dredged up by a computer scientist perhaps in the 1980s. It does not occur in my 1980s Oxford English Dictionary. The whole business of programming jargon diffusing into popular culture needs to be investigated by some hypercaffeinated lexicographer...

    April 8, 2010