Definition of imbricate in English:



[with object]usually as adjective imbricated
  • 1Arrange (scales, sepals, plates, etc.) so that they overlap like roof tiles.

    ‘these moulds have spherical bodies composed of imbricated triangular plates’
    • ‘Now, we know that when reptiles have imbricated scales, we do find dermal muscles.’
    • ‘Instead, the most parsimonious interpretation is that the sellate sclerites were probably imbricated in anterior-posterior rows.’
    • ‘The sellate sclerites were probably imbricated posteriorly along their duplicature and sella sides.’
    • ‘They may be imbricated and/or fragmented, suggesting winnowing and directed current stress.’
    • ‘These image structures imbricate prior historical formations to displace the digital warfare irradiating the cybermilitarized economy.’
    1. 1.1usually as adjective imbricatingno object Overlap.
      ‘a coating of imbricating scales’
      • ‘But, unlike modern fishes, most thelodont squamation, especially in the cephalopectoral region, was not imbricating.’
      • ‘This means that ‘apparently distant’ forms of life imbricate deeply because the same ontological mechanisms responsible for anthropogenesis treat nonhuman forms of life as similarly negative in their unlikeness to human life.’
      • ‘The Mannin Thrust is identified as a major imbricating structure within a continental arc, but not a terrane boundary.’
      • ‘Perhaps as a result of being contacting or imbricating surfaces, the decrescent, sella, and duplicature sides are also characterized by negative allometry (relative to other sides) and a sparse distribution of pores.’
      • ‘Therefore, we propose that the decrescent, sella, and duplicature sides represent contacting or imbricating surfaces.’


  • (of scales, sepals, plates, etc.) having adjacent edges overlapping.

    • ‘It has terminal, fascicled inflorescences of several scarlet flowers covered by imbricate, scarious sheaths, and the labellum margins are fused with the column forming a short, saccate nectary spur.’
    • ‘They discussed the relationship of the various major thrusts to each other and to adjacent imbricate thrust systems.’
    • ‘However, if imbricate structures of folds are truncated by low-angle thrusts, the decapitated upper portions of the systems should be found, carried off towards the foreland.’
    • ‘South-facing structures in Carboniferous rocks to the north of the facing confrontation zone are interpreted as back thrusts generated by northward underthrusting of the imbricate stack to the south of the zone.’
    • ‘These rocks are preserved within a south-verging imbricate thrust stack of thin ([much less than] 1 km thick) northward younging tectonic slices.’


Early 17th century (in the sense ‘shaped like a pantile’): from Latin imbricat-, ‘covered with roof tiles’, from the verb imbricare, from imbrex, imbric- ‘roof tile’ (from imber ‘shower of rain’).