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 proliferate (audio) \ noun
proliferative \ prə-​ˈli-​fə-​ˌrā-​tiv How to pronounce proliferate (audio) , prə-​ˈli-​f(ə-​)rə-​tiv How to pronounce proliferate (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 Until that happens, conspiracy theories will proliferate unabated. Fortune, "The biggest conspiracy theories of 2020 (and why they won’t die)," 31 Dec. 2020 Democrats share a general willingness to rethink the rules, believing that Facebook and its peers have long skirted accountability for allowing harmful content, including hate speech and misinformation, to proliferate wildly online. Washington Post, "Trump, Republicans seize on new stimulus debate to take aim at an old foe: Big tech," 29 Dec. 2020 Although increasingly bold price predictions proliferate, canny insiders are wary of bitcoin’s regular tides and say its notorious volatility hasn’t disappeared. Paul Vigna, WSJ, "Bitcoin’s Rally Has Already Outlasted 2017’s Epic Run," 24 Dec. 2020 These findings indicate that modern birds started to evolve and proliferate prior to the mass extinction that wiped out the non-avian dinosaurs. Riley Black, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Top Ten Dinosaur Discoveries of 2020," 23 Dec. 2020 The lack of options marketed to consumers has created a missing middle: the zone between mass market and niche market where experimentation is supposed to proliferate and engender variety. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Monopolization Is Killing Art," 22 Dec. 2020 Ghost kitchens, which prepare food for delivery only, may proliferate. Paul Wiseman And Alexandra Olson, chicagotribune.com, "From restaurants to retail, travel to telecommuting, COVID-19 has transformed the economy. Which changes will stick?," 16 Dec. 2020 Facebook also said in its update its artificial intelligence systems are getting significantly better at rooting out posts with hate speech, even as the content continues to proliferate on its social media sites. Washington Post, "Facebook says it labeled 180 million debunked posts ahead of the election," 19 Nov. 2020 As these electronic payments and the services associated with them proliferate, particularly due to the pandemic and the incoming presidential administration, the financial world is changing rapidly. Mckenna Moore, Fortune, "The cashless economy: How fintech is approaching the future of finance," 19 Nov. 2020

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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Time Traveler for proliferate

Time Traveler

The first known use of proliferate was in 1866

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Statistics for proliferate

Last Updated

15 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Proliferate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/proliferate. Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

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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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