late 14c., from Old French imbiber, embiber "to soak into," and directly from Latin imbibere "absorb, drink in, inhale," from assimilated form of in- "into, in, on, upon" (from PIE root *en "in") + bibere "to drink," related to potare "to drink," from PIE root *po(i)- "to drink." Figurative sense of "mentally drink in" (knowledge, ideas, etc.) was the main one in classical Latin, first attested in English 1550s. Related: Imbibed; imbibing.
updated on May 25, 2017