Definition of proliferate
proliferationplay \-ˌli-fə-ˈrā-shən\ noun
proliferativeplay \-ˈli-fə-ˌrā-tiv, -f(ə-)rə-tiv\ adjective
proliferate was our Word of the Day on 03/11/2009. Hear the podcast!
Examples of proliferate in a sentence
rumors about the incident proliferated on the Internet
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."
Origin and Etymology of proliferate
back-formation from proliferation, from French prolifération, from proliférer to proliferate, from prolifère reproducing freely, from Latin proles + -fer -ferous
First Known Use: 1866
PROLIFERATE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of proliferate for English Language Learners
: to increase in number or amount quickly
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up proliferate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).