I wonder if dear natives could tell me if it is possible to substitute the bold words bellow with the italic words inside of the parentheses at the end of each sentence or not:

  • You have to engrain these beliefs in you. (internalize)
  • These beliefs have become engrained in the German people, over a period of many years. (internalized)

2 Answers 2


Engraining is the act of strongly associating a belief or process into a system.

The American ethos becomes engrained through hard work.

Internalizing is having learned something so well and thoroughly that one can act using it without thinking i.e. it becomes automatic

For athletes, movement is internalized by repetitive action called muscle memory.
He responded so quickly because he had internalized all his actions.

Actions and beliefs can usually only be internalized by living things.
Things become internalized by being engrained through learning.

Both living things and ideals can be engrained by or with something


To me, the difference is more connotative.

Internalizing something carries an implication of understanding and comprehending it well. If I internalize a new idea in class, I learned it and understood it inside and out.

Engraining, on the other hand, doesn't carry that implication of understanding. You may understand it very well, but if it's engrained in you, you've basically carved it into you (which is the literal meaning of engrain). Maybe you repeated it 1000 times. Maybe you wrote it 1000 times. You can now recite it back to me. But you don't necessarily understand it inside and out - that isn't implied.

For example, in many religious households, beliefs are engrained into younger children. It would be strange to say that the kids have internalized the beliefs/teachings until they are much older. While they are kids and don't really understand exactly what's going on, they have simply memorized by repetition.

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