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 Davis statute came in 1936 after a fundraising campaign by the United Daughters of the Confederacy at the height of the Jim Crow era, when segregation laws proliferated throughout the South. Washington Post, "Plaque honoring Jefferson Davis removed at Kentucky Capitol," 29 Mar. 2018 Photo: Mark Downey/Getty Images Portland, Oregon: Rose City With warm, dry summers and rainy, temperate winters, Portland's climate is perfect for growing just about anything, including roses, which proliferate in the city. Amanda Greene, Woman's Day, "10 U.S. City Nickname Origins," 12 Nov. 2010 Threats to tankers from new battlefield technologies are proliferating at a rate not seen in decades. Jon Talton, The Seattle Times, "Boeing’s other problem: Much-needed Air Force tanker keeps hitting snafus," 12 Apr. 2019 While the overall number of applications to U.S. M.B.A. programs continues to decline, online business-degree programs are proliferating, aiming to attract professionals loath to pause careers for full-time studies. Amber Burton, WSJ, "Does Your Online M.B.A. Program Feel Too Remote? There’s a Bot For That," 5 Dec. 2018 While electric sedans and hatchbacks are proliferating, nobody has tried to build a serious electric SUV or pickup truck. Ezra Dyer, Popular Mechanics, "The Bollinger B2 Is the Beefy Electric Truck We've Been Waiting For," 10 Oct. 2018 These days, small, niche streaming services like Shudder, Filmstruck, Fandor, Crackle, and Mubi are proliferating, while major studios are moving to establish special subscription services for their own content. Graeme Mcmillan, The Verge, "Netflix, Amazon Video, and Xfinity are accidentally re-creating cable TV," 13 Aug. 2018 At a moment when populists with questionable business ties are proliferating across Western nations, the case study may resonate far beyond Austria. Josephine Huetlin, The New Republic, "Why Do Populists Frequently Get Away With Corruption?," 25 June 2018 So, if traffic delays are proliferating and high travel days are morphing, GDOT needs to change the standards for holiday travel closures. Doug Turnbull, ajc, "GDOT needs to adjust its holiday schedule," 25 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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Dictionary Entries near proliferate

proli-

pro-life

proliferant

proliferate

proliferous

prolific

prolifical

Statistics for proliferate

Last Updated

12 Jun 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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