proliferate

verb
pro·​lif·​er·​ate | \ prə-ˈli-fə-ˌrāt How to pronounce proliferate (audio) \
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 How to pronounce proliferation (audio) \ noun
proliferative \ prə-​ˈli-​fə-​ˌrā-​tiv How to pronounce proliferative (audio) , prə-​ˈli-​f(ə-​)rə-​tiv How to pronounce proliferative (audio) \ 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

It's been imitated, proliferated, and reimagined by many other brands. Glamour, "Talita von Furstenberg, Diane’s Granddaughter, Is Ushering in a New Era of Dresses," 24 Apr. 2019 And as e-commerce grows and new products proliferate, some economists argue, the traditional measures have a harder time capturing the full scale of price changes online. Patricia Cohen, New York Times, "E-Commerce Might Help Solve the Mystery of Low Inflation," 11 June 2018 Since my last visit, traffic in San Francisco has become even more insane, with bike lanes and car-blocking bus stops proliferating, making a drive home like calculating a miniature golf putt. Michael Bauer, San Francisco Chronicle, "Michael Bauer’s trip to Kansas: $17 main courses and homes for $75,000," 15 May 2018 France’s populist yellow vest protesters have yet to come up with a common online space, with proliferating Facebook groups and YouTube channels that have a varied outpouring of demands. Lori Hinnant, The Seattle Times, "Tech could unite Europe’s populists ahead of EU vote in May," 19 Feb. 2019 Red flag bills have proliferated across the country since the Parkland shooting; six were passed this year and six more are pending. NBC News, "Unlocked And loaded: Families confront dementia and guns," 26 June 2018 Red flag bills have proliferated across the country since the Parkland shooting; six were passed this year and six more are pending. Washington Post, "Unlocked And Loaded: Families Confront Dementia And Guns," 25 June 2018 Robotic vacuums have only proliferated over the years (and there are lots of good ones), but iRobot has long been leading the pack with robotic vacs that also pack in other smarts for even better cleaning. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "Embrace the Robot Vacuum Future with Amazon's Roomba Sale," 12 Feb. 2019 In Deschutes County, the sheriff and district attorney in February went public with their frustrations, saying the state was allowing black market operations to proliferate through lack of oversight. Washington Post, "Oregon’s medical marijuana program admits to problems," 13 July 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

15 May 2019

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 How to pronounce proliferate (audio) \
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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