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

Algorithmic lending, meanwhile, is proliferating online, transforming everything from personal loans to small-business borrowing. John Detrixhe, Quartz, "Fintech algorithms discriminate 40% less than traditional lenders," 19 June 2019 Over the same period, charter schools in the city and across the state have proliferated. Annie Waldman, ProPublica, "How Teach for America Evolved Into an Arm of the Charter School Movement," 18 June 2019 Propaganda and tribal isolation have always existed but now are proliferating with social media that is, paradoxically, fostering anti-social tendencies. Shobana Shankar, Quartz Africa, "What the United States could learn from Nigeria about taking on anti-vaxxers," 7 June 2019 Charter schools have proliferated all over the city in recent years, fully taking over some neighborhoods. Ian Lovett And Tawnell D. Hobbs, WSJ, "Charter Schools Stay Open As Striking Teachers Decry Their Growth," 21 Jan. 2019 Over a period of about 150 million years — brief by evolutionary standards —such fish proliferated into more species than other groups of fish. Quanta Magazine, "In the Deep, Clues to How Life Makes Light," 1 Dec. 2016 Democrats are also demanding more stringent oversight of charter schools, which can operate like private schools, tend to be non-union and have proliferated in big cities such as Oakland and Los Angeles. Laurel Rosenhall, The Mercury News, "California just passed a $215 billion budget. Here’s what’s between the lines.," 14 June 2019 Many of the schools considered rural that gained enrollment are charter schools, which have proliferated in the past decade in Arizona. Lily Altavena, azcentral, "Squeezed by declining enrollment, Arizona's rural schools are suffering," 12 June 2019 Also in the mix are an untold number of sweepstakes machines, devices similar to video slot and poker machines that have been proliferating in Chicago. Jason Grotto, ProPublica, "Illinois Is Poised to Become the Gambling Capital of the Midwest," 10 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

10 Jul 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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