English is rife with words that are spelled almost the same but mean completely different things. Much less common in English are words that are spelled slightly differently but still have the same meaning. Imbed and embed belong is this second category. To cut right to the chase, they mean exactly the same thing. Still, one of these words is a better choice in writing situations where word choice is important, like academic and professional writing.
In this post, I will compare embed vs. imbed. I will use these spellings in example sentences, so that you can see them in context. Plus, I will show you a helpful memory tool that you can use as a reminder of which spelling to use in which situation.
Embed as verb:
Embed as noun:
Use of embed:
China’s government plans to embed cybersecurity police units at major Internet companies and websites to help prevent crimes such as fraud and “spreading of rumors,” state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Tuesday. –The Wall Street Journal
Use of imbed:
Imbed is an alternate spelling of the same word. Neither form is more correct; they are both accepted spellings. The two variants were used about the same amount until around 1960, when writers started using embed much more frequently. Then as the dawn of personal computing began in the 1980s, this gap widened even more and has continued until the present day.
Embed or imbed:
Imbed and embed are spelling variants of a verb that means to put something in something else. Embed is the better choice, even though imbed is not technically incorrect. Technically, you could use either embed or imbed whenever you wanted. They are both correct. Since embed is so much more popular, though, it is probably the best choice for formal writing contexts, like academic and professional writing, or in computing contexts where it is likely to dominate. In the case of embed vs. imbed, neither spelling is incorrect, but one spelling is more correct than the other. That is a good way to think about the two. Since embed begins with the same three letters as the verb emblazon, it should be easy to remember to emblazon your writing with embed instead of imbed.