tr.v. con·flat·ed, con·flat·ing, con·flates
1. To bring together; meld or fuse: "The problems [with the biopic] include ... dates moved around, lovers deleted, many characters conflated into one" (Ty Burr).
2. To combine (two variant texts, for example) into one whole.
3. To fail to distinguish between; confuse. See Usage Note below.
[Latin cōnflāre, cōnflāt- : com-, com- + flāre, to blow; see bhlē- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Usage Note: Traditionally, conflate means "To bring together; meld or fuse," as in the sentence I have trouble differentiating Jane Austen's heroines; I realized I had conflated Elizabeth Bennet and Emma Woodhouse into a single character in my mind. In our 2015 survey, 87 percent of the Usage Panelists accepted this traditional usage. Recently, a new sense for conflate has emerged, meaning "To mistake one thing for another," as if it were a synonym for confuse. In 2015, our usage panelists found this new sense to be marginally acceptable, with 55 percent accepting the sentence People often conflate the national debt with the federal deficit; when the senator talked about reducing the debt, he was actually referring to the deficit.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.