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

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. Andrew Selsky, The Seattle Times, "Oregon admits lack of oversight of medical-marijuana program," 15 July 2018 After Anthony Bourdain’s death, a particular kind of tribute proliferated in my social media feeds. Kanishk Tharoor, The Atlantic, "Anthony Bourdain’s Extreme Empathy," 10 June 2018 The social media giant, which has been under fire for sharing user data with Chinese device makers and for allowing fake news to proliferate on the platform, is funding shows from Fox News and ABC News, among others. Claire Atkinson, NBC News, "Facebook funds news shows from ABC, Fox, CNN and more," 6 June 2018 And among some Facebook employees, who have rallied around Kavanaugh’s proliferating number of accusers, Kaplan’s endorsement of his friend became a workplace issue. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Facebook’s head of public policy is supporting the Kavanaugh nomination, and some employees are livid," 5 Oct. 2018 Assad has depended on support from Iran and its Lebanese proxy, the militant group Hezbollah, to fight his war on local opposition forces and an Islamic State group insurgency that proliferated through the country mid-decade. Fox News, "Syrian government, rebels clash over recon base near Israel," 16 July 2018 The goal is to counter the fake videos that can proliferate immediately after shootings, natural disasters and other major happenings. Barbara Ortutay, USA TODAY, "YouTube is cracking down on 'fake news' with new text previews," 9 July 2018 Some of them will have cystic fibrosis, which causes mucus in the lungs to be overly sticky, often allowing drug-resistant microbes to proliferate. Eric Boodman, STAT, "First phage therapy center in the U.S. signals growing acceptance," 21 June 2018 Fishermen say the ban has worked all too well, allowing goliath grouper to proliferate, eat all the fish in an area and even snatch fish off their lines. David Fleshler, Sun-Sentinel.com, "State keeps protection for Goliath grouper," 26 Apr. 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

6 Mar 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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