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

While fraud has proliferated on Facebook for years, those running the military romance scams are taking on not only one of the world’s most influential companies, but also the most powerful military — and succeeding. Casey Newton, The Verge, "It’s time to regulate tech platforms with laws, not fines," 30 July 2019 Brought to Germany for their fur in the 1930s, raccoons have since proliferated across much of Europe. Douglas Main, National Geographic, "Raccoons are spreading across Earth—and climate change could help," 29 July 2019 While fraud has proliferated on Facebook for years, those running the military romance scams are taking on not only one of the world’s most influential companies, but also the most powerful military — and succeeding. Jack Nicas, New York Times, "Facebook Connected Her to a Tattooed Soldier in Iraq. Or So She Thought.," 28 July 2019 Passage's story provides insight into how captive tigers have proliferated throughout America, to the point that there now may be more in this country than in the wild. oregonlive.com, "The trouble with tigers in America," 13 July 2019 Such agreements have proliferated at the Justice Department as a way to punish companies for committing crimes without harming shareholders and employees with no relation to the misconduct. Dylan Tokar, WSJ, "Justice Department Extends Compliance Breaks to Antitrust Offenders," 11 July 2019 More Americans are obtaining passports and going abroad than ever before—and thousands of different travel apps, websites, and services have proliferated to help them on their journeys. Louise Matsakis, WIRED, "How to Save Money and Skip Lines at the Airport," 5 July 2019 These storage facilities have proliferated across other cities. Anna Beahm | Abeahm@al.com, al.com, "Birmingham approves 6-month stay on self-storage business licenses," 2 July 2019 Just six years later, when Richard Burns, a student at Hamilton College, came out, gay-liberation groups had proliferated. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, "Coming Out, and Rising Up, in the Fifty Years After Stonewall," 28 June 2019

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

7 Aug 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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Comments on proliferate

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not constant or steady

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