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 The San Jose metro area already has the most extensive adoption of electric vehicles in the nation, and electric bikes and scooters proliferate in our downtown and beyond. Sam Liccardo, The Mercury News, "Opinion: Making San Jose a model city for sustainability," 25 Aug. 2019 Minds eventually banned the accounts when Motherboard showed them to the platform, but the company’s lax content moderation allowed them to proliferate unchecked for months. Casey Newton, The Verge, "The White House’s social media summit has an ulterior motive," 11 July 2019 As ambitious sushi restaurants, particularly those serving omakase, continue to proliferate throughout San Francisco and the greater Bay Area, there are more opportunities than ever to begin to understand the subtle art. Omar Mamoon, SFChronicle.com, "Q&A with master sushi chef Jiro Lin of Hamano in San Francisco," 28 Aug. 2019 Zebra mussels, an invasive species that like to hitch rides on boats and clog pipes and take over bodies of water, will do their best to proliferate regardless of what oil and gas prices are doing. Aldo Svaldi, The Denver Post, "Colorado severance tax collections expected to drop sharply, even though a bust is nowhere in sight," 18 Aug. 2019 Over the past few years, Mastodon has become the model for a friendlier kind of social network, promising to keep out the hateful or ugly content that proliferates on larger and more centralized networks. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "How the biggest decentralized social network is dealing with its Nazi problem," 12 July 2019 Over the course of hours, these cells might be able to proliferate to levels high enough to make someone sick. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Flies in Hospitals Are Full of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria," 26 June 2019 This deep-dive explores exactly what that means for young viewers, particularly men, who are drawn deeper and deeper into the alt-right communities that have proliferated on the site. Katherine Dunn, Fortune, "A Brand New Aerospace Giant: CEO Daily," 10 June 2019 The findings suggest that the Marek’s vaccine encourages more dangerous viruses to proliferate. Quanta Magazine, "Vaccines Are Pushing Pathogens to Evolve," 10 May 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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Statistics for proliferate

Last Updated

30 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for proliferate

The first known use of proliferate was in 1866

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More Definitions for proliferate

proliferate

verb
How to pronounce proliferate (audio)

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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Comments on proliferate

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to spread as a report or rumor

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