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

These companies are, historically, fixated on crafting arbitrary and unnecessary limitations consumers, and competitors are then forced to hurdle at ever-escalating cost. Karl Bode, The Verge, "How the new AT&T could bully its way to streaming domination," 18 Dec. 2018 And there is the issue of the ever-escalating cost to produce them. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "As It Begins Its Second Century, Is the Aircraft Carrier Obsolete?," 5 Nov. 2018 But both also struggling against the sheer force of the escalating costs here. Danny Westneat, The Seattle Times, "When a million bucks ‘is nothing’: Bidding opens to try to save historic house," 26 Sep. 2018 Such stepwise price increases were common until the escalating cost of drugs sparked fiery backlash from the public and lawmakers. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Trump gets Pfizer to delay latest drug price hikes until year end," 11 July 2018 An independent review board cites worker error and embedded hardware problems for much of the escalating costs and delays. Marcia Dunn,, "More delay, cost for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope," 28 June 2018 Pay just hasn’t kept pace with the escalating cost of living in a place where the income gap between rich and poor is among the biggest. Linda Robertson, miamiherald, "Where are the worst places to live in the U.S.? Three of them are in Miami-Dade.," 19 June 2018 The escalating cost of the tax breaks hits as the state’s budget, which totals $35.9 billion in the current fiscal year, is already squeezed by the rising expense of public-employee health care and pensions. Kate King, WSJ, "Chris Christie’s Corporate Tax Breaks Leave New Jersey With Big Price Tag," 13 June 2018 Even though the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission has called for more-affordable single-family housing in the area, builders say escalating costs make that difficult to achieve. Paul Gores, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Rising costs for labor, lots and lumber pushing up new-home prices, industry pros say," 8 June 2018

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

18 Mar 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



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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