escalate

verb
es·​ca·​late | \ ˈe-skə-ˌlāt How to pronounce escalate (audio) , nonstandard -skyə- How to pronounce escalate (audio) \
escalated; escalating

Definition of escalate

intransitive verb

: to increase in extent, volume, number, amount, intensity, or scope a little war threatens to escalate into a huge ugly one— Arnold Abrams

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Other Words from escalate

escalation \ ˌe-​skə-​ˈlā-​shən How to pronounce escalation (audio) , nonstandard  -​skyə-​ \ noun
escalatory \ ˈe-​skə-​lə-​ˌtȯr-​ē How to pronounce escalatory (audio) , nonstandard  -​skyə-​ \ adjective

Examples of escalate in a Sentence

The conflict has escalated into an all-out war. a time of escalating tensions We are trying not to escalate the violence. Salaries of leading executives have continued to escalate. The cold weather has escalated fuel prices.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The council meeting highlighted the nearly two decade-long stalemate over Kosovo and the escalating tensions in the western Balkans. Edith M. Lederer, The Seattle Times, "Serbia and Kosovo trade accusations over Kosovo’s new army," 17 Dec. 2018 Add in the escalating tensions from President Trump’s sudden interest in starting trade wars, and there’s simply more outside pressure on the auto industry than ever before. Sean O'kane, The Verge, "Big automakers are breaking themselves apart to compete with Silicon Valley," 26 July 2018 Soybeans on the Chicago Board of Trade tumbled 14 percent last month due to the escalating trade tensions. Bloomberg, Time, "This American Cargo Ship Is Racing to China to Beat a Huge New Tariff on the Soybeans it's Carrying," 5 July 2018 Soybeans on the Chicago Board of Trade tumbled 14% last month due to the escalating trade tensions. Bloomberg, latimes.com, "U.S. cargo ship carrying soybeans in race to beat China's retaliatory tariffs," 5 July 2018 The escalating tensions spurred a surge in missions for 7th Fleet ships. Oyin Falana, USA TODAY, "Mission creep a way of life in Western Pacific as sailors struggle with constant demands," 29 June 2018 Some economists remained nonplussed by the escalating tensions, pointing out that while the United States imports more than $500 billion worth of goods from China, the value of our exports is only around $130 billion. NBC News, "Beijing has tactics besides just tariffs to hurt the U.S. in a trade war," 19 June 2018 The escalating violence began Feb. 14 with a terrorist bombing that killed 40 Indian paramilitary officers in Kashmir, an area that both India and Pakistan claim in a longstanding border dispute. Saeed Shah, WSJ, "Pakistan to Release Captured Indian Pilot, Easing Tensions," 28 Feb. 2019 But Twenge—and, for the record, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)—isn’t content to wait, because the escalating rates of depression and self-harm are real. Jessica Wapner, SELF, "How Worried Do You Really Need to Be About Your Screen Time?," 7 Feb. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'escalate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of escalate

1944, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for escalate

back-formation from escalator

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Statistics for escalate

Last Updated

13 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for escalate

The first known use of escalate was in 1944

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More Definitions for escalate

escalate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of escalate

: to become worse or to make (something) worse or more severe
: to become greater or higher or to make (something) greater or higher

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More from Merriam-Webster on escalate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with escalate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for escalate

Spanish Central: Translation of escalate

Nglish: Translation of escalate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of escalate for Arabic Speakers

Comments on escalate

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