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Copy vs Imitate vs Mimic vs Ape vs Mock

Copy, imitate, mimic, ape, mock mean to make something like an already existing thing in form, appearance, or obvious or salient characteristics.

Copy implies duplication of an original and thereby as close a resemblance as is possible under the circumstances.

Imitate stresses following something as a pattern or model; it does not therefore preclude variations from the original; thus, a writer who imitates Keats may merely reecho enough of that poet’s rhythms, images, or sentiments to produce poetry reminiscent of Keats. Imitate may imply emulation or it may imply representation in another medium or it may imply simulation.

Mimic usually implies an exact copying, especially of a person’s movements, gestures, voice, mannerisms, sometimes for the sake of making sport of them, but often with the intention of giving a lifelike representation of them.

The word sometimes suggests a counterfeiting clever enough to seem real; it therefore often implies the skill of an actor.

Ape also implies close copying sometimes seriously, sometimes in the spirit of mimicry. Often it suggests an attempt to emulate what one admires and then may connote such failure of the attempt as is likely to subject one to contempt.

Mock commonly adds to mimic the implication of a derisive intent. It often distinctively suggests immediate repetition of the words or actions mimicked.