proliferate

verb
pro·​lif·​er·​ate | \prə-ˈli-fə-ˌrāt \
proliferated; proliferating

Definition of proliferate 

intransitive verb

1 : to grow by rapid production of new parts, cells, buds, or offspring

2 : to increase in number as if by proliferating : multiply

transitive verb

1 : to cause to grow by proliferating

2 : to cause to increase in number or extent as if by proliferating

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Other Words from proliferate

proliferation \ prə-​ˌli-​fə-​ˈrā-​shən \ noun
proliferative \ prə-​ˈli-​fə-​ˌrā-​tiv , prə-​ˈli-​f(ə-​)rə-​tiv \ adjective

Did You Know?

Proliferate came about in 1873 as a back-formation of "proliferation." That means that "proliferation" came first (we borrowed it from French in the 1850s) and was later shortened to form the verb "proliferate." Ultimately these terms come from Latin. The French adjective prolifère ("reproducing freely") comes from the Latin noun proles and the Latin combining form "-fer." Proles means "offspring" or "descendants," and -fer means "bearing." Both of these Latin forms gave rise to numerous other English words. "Prolific" and "proletarian" ultimately come from "proles"; "aquifer" and words ending in "-ferous" have their roots in "-fer."

Examples of proliferate in a Sentence

rumors about the incident proliferated on the Internet

Recent Examples on the Web

Innovative camper design has a way of proliferating in the RV industry. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Remote-controlled camper trailer pops up in 30 seconds," 19 Oct. 2018 Due in large part to Illumina, genetics and genomics companies have proliferated in San Diego. Bradley J. Fikes, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Personal genomics company Helix raises $200 million," 9 July 2018 Salons also proliferated in Belle Epoque Paris and turn-of-the-20th-century England, with the salonnières frequently fighting over the company of figures like Anatole France and Claude Debussy. Sadie Stein, Town & Country, "The Revival of Les Liaisons Dangereuses and the Evolution of the Society Grand Dame," 20 Sep. 2016 The gin: Spanish distilleries are proliferating faster than tourists visiting la Sagrada Familia. Lisa Futterman, chicagotribune.com, "No mere gin and tonic: Spanish craze employs fruits and herbs to pause summer," 11 July 2018 But populations proliferate rapidly in warm, slow-moving, nutrient rich waters, leading to thick blankets of algae that can spread across waterways. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "A Toxic Algal Bloom Is Spreading in Florida’s Waterways," 10 July 2018 While the cuisine’s popularity has proliferated stateside (even McDonald’s has its now-infamous take on a Szechuan sauce), there’s nothing quite like going straight to the source to fully experience how these peppers should be used. Christina Liao, Vogue, "All the Szechuan Food You Should Try in Chengdu, China," 5 June 2018 Our blended family of five grown children are doing what grown children do, finding partners, marrying, proliferating. Marni Jameson, NOLA.com, "Bring out the family: 4 tips for customizing your outdoor kitchen," 1 June 2018 Crypto hedge funds have proliferated over the last 18 months, with an estimated 100 new ones launching in 2017. Erin Griffith, WIRED, "A Merger That Would Have Made Crypto Investing Easier Fails," 19 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'proliferate.' 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 proliferate

1866, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for proliferate

back-formation from proliferation, from French prolifération, from proliférer to proliferate, from prolifère reproducing freely, from Latin proles + -fer -ferous

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Dictionary Entries near proliferate

proli-

pro-life

proliferant

proliferate

proliferous

prolific

prolifical

Statistics for proliferate

Last Updated

13 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for proliferate

The first known use of proliferate was in 1866

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More Definitions for proliferate

proliferate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of proliferate

: to increase in number or amount quickly

proliferate

verb
pro·​lif·​er·​ate | \prə-ˈlif-ə-ˌrāt \
proliferated; proliferating

Medical Definition of proliferate 

intransitive verb

: to grow by rapid production of new parts, cells, buds, or offspring

transitive verb

: to cause to grow by proliferating

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