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 electric scooters, which can go up to 15 mph (24 kph), have proliferated in places across the country in recent months, often without warning to city officials who have grappled with how to regulate them. Ivan Moreno, The Seattle Times, "Company removes Milwaukee scooters until rules are in place," 6 Aug. 2018 Warburg Pincus expects properties foundering under debt to proliferate. Dominique Fong, WSJ, "Warburg Pincus Plans $1 Billion Joint Venture in China," 12 Dec. 2018 Hannah Arendt warned of the mass cynicism that can befall cultures when propaganda is allowed to proliferate among them; that cynicism is here, now. Casey Newton, The Verge, "The 8-year-olds hacking our voting machines," 4 Aug. 2018 But for certain species, the ability to adapt to and even exploit human resources makes them more likely to proliferate in our midst. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "How Humans Created the Ultimate Superpests," 9 July 2018 As such, the OpenBSD solution—disabling the use of SMT entirely—looks unlikely to proliferate. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Hyperthreading under scrutiny with new TLBleed crypto key leak," 25 June 2018 Sure enough, NOTCH2NLs encouraged stem cells to proliferate without turning into neurons, increasing the total number of neurons generated. The Economist, "A history of big-headedness," 31 May 2018 Image Procrastibaking is also a thriving hashtag on Instagram, where #procrastibaking posts seem to proliferate just before annual rituals of anxiety like exam weeks, Tax Day and Election Day. Julia Moskin, New York Times, "Why Work When You Can Procrastibake?," 15 May 2018 Especially with Cast Tech and ALA students beginning to proliferate as those programs increase enrollment. Josh Baugh, San Antonio Express-News, "Main Avenue, Soledad now two-way streets," 17 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

9 Jan 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 \
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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