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

The island vanished seemingly overnight, imperiling the already fragile monk seal population of 1,400 worldwide, many of which proliferate in the region. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "A Remote Hawaiian Island Disappeared Completely Following a Hurricane," 24 Oct. 2018 These advantages, plus difficulties in getting credit cards approved, and the fact that Alipay and its rival WeChat Pa, are already widely used, have made mobile payments via QR codes proliferate in China. Shannon Liao, The Verge, "Amazon reportedly wants gas stations and restaurants to start using Amazon Pay," 21 Nov. 2018 Not surprisingly, the phenomenon proliferates in coastal areas, especially California. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "The number of ‘million-dollar neighborhoods’ in the U.S. has doubled," 9 Nov. 2018 In Congress, liberal bills are proliferating like kudzu. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Centrist Democrats are out of ideas," 30 July 2018 Corporate finance chiefs say forming a cohesive and complete assessment of a company from proliferating data streams in an increasingly digital workplace has emerged as a top challenge. Ezequiel Minaya, WSJ, "Finance Chiefs Say Too Much Data Is Making It Harder to Keep on Top of Risks," 19 July 2018 And, in a world in which nationalism is proliferating, many readers might wish the author had drawn more general lessons from his account of these two experiences. The Economist, "The siren call of separatism," 12 July 2018 On the Big Island, mongoose have proliferated, devastating local bird populations; so have Puerto Rican coquí frogs, which chirp abruptly and erratically at 90 decibels, like a mobile infestation of alarm clocks. Jennifer Kahn, New York Times, "Should Some Species Be Allowed to Die Out?," 13 Mar. 2018 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

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

11 Dec 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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