escalate

verb
es·​ca·​late | \ ˈe-skə-ˌlāt , nonstandard -skyə- \
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 , nonstandard  -​skyə-​ \ noun
escalatory \ ˈe-​skə-​lə-​ˌtȯr-​ē , 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

Like the old wives’ tale of a fever peaking towards late afternoon, the previous Actes have usually escalated in violence right around the time that guests would be making their way to Dior. Amy Verner, Vogue, "First Dior Men, Now Thom Browne—The Gilets Jaunes Are Impacting the Fall ’19 Paris Men’s Shows," 9 Jan. 2019 Idris Elba is jumping in on the fun after rumors escalated this weekend about his possible casting as James Bond. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Idris Elba Teased James Bond Casting Rumors and We Are Shook, Not Stirred," 13 Aug. 2018 The air simmered with escalating violence, impatient protestors, hardened social classes and new social movements. Marissa Vonesh, Smithsonian, "How the Fourth of July Was Celebrated (and Protested) in 1968," 3 July 2018 There's an at-large serial killer, teen boys trying to solve murders, a synth-heavy score, and what looks like rapidly escalating violence. Luke Darby, GQ, "The Summer of '84 Trailer Delivers Scares and Slasher Nostalgia," 30 June 2018 Her nightmare story is yet another example of the stunningly high correlation between stalking that then escalates to murder. refinery29.com, "The Capital Gazette Shooting Is A Tragic Reminder: Take Abuse Of Women Seriously.," 29 June 2018 But among careful observers of the escalating F.B.I. probe, the development was significant. Abigail Tracy, The Hive, "Was Viktor Vekselberg Bankrolling Michael Cohen’s Pro-Russia Peace Plan for Ukraine?," 8 June 2018 Markets have been rattled in recent weeks by increased worries over the impact that rising interest rates, inflation and the escalating trade dispute between the U.S. and China may have for corporate profits. Alex Veiga, The Seattle Times, "US stocks tumble in early trade after global markets slide," 23 Oct. 2018 Gottman says that this action—silly or otherwise—prevents negativity from escalating out of control and is a secret weapon of emotionally intelligent couples. Anne Roderique-jones, SELF, "I Tested ‘Love Languages’ and 3 Other Relationship Books on My Marriage," 7 Oct. 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 Feb 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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excited commotion or publicity

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