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

Red flag bills have proliferated across the country since the Parkland shooting; six were passed this year and six more are pending. NBC News, "Unlocked And loaded: Families confront dementia and guns," 26 June 2018 Red flag bills have proliferated across the country since the Parkland shooting; six were passed this year and six more are pending. Washington Post, "Unlocked And Loaded: Families Confront Dementia And Guns," 25 June 2018 Robotic vacuums have only proliferated over the years (and there are lots of good ones), but iRobot has long been leading the pack with robotic vacs that also pack in other smarts for even better cleaning. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "Embrace the Robot Vacuum Future with Amazon's Roomba Sale," 12 Feb. 2019 In Deschutes County, the sheriff and district attorney in February went public with their frustrations, saying the state was allowing black market operations to proliferate through lack of oversight. Washington Post, "Oregon’s medical marijuana program admits to problems," 13 July 2018 Along the way, the company went public, became a force as mobile devices proliferated and now faces questions about its role in shaping public opinion and its handling of all this private data. Georgia Wells, WSJ, "Facebook’s Timeline: 15 Years In," 4 Feb. 2019 This is also important because bacteria can proliferate quickly when food cools right after cooking. Jenna Flannigan, SELF, "8 Surprising Food Safety Mistakes You Might Be Making," 11 Jan. 2019 In Deschutes County, the sheriff and district attorney in February went public with their frustrations, saying the state was allowing black-market operations to proliferate through lack of oversight. Andrew Selsky, The Seattle Times, "Oregon admits lack of oversight of medical-marijuana program," 15 July 2018 After Anthony Bourdain’s death, a particular kind of tribute proliferated in my social media feeds. Kanishk Tharoor, The Atlantic, "Anthony Bourdain’s Extreme Empathy," 10 June 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

17 Apr 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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