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 provision was meant to prevent the types of abusive mortgages that proliferated during the housing bubble, ones with low, short-term teaser rates or huge monthly payments. Damian Paletta, Anchorage Daily News, "Federal agencies dramatically expand exposure to risky mortgages, echoing concerns before Great Recession," 3 Oct. 2019 Clyde Cowan and Frederick Reines were the first to observe these ghostly particles in 1956, thanks to the fusion reactions in nuclear power plants that proliferated after World War II. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Weighing in: Physicists cut upper limit on neutrino’s mass in half," 19 Sep. 2019 Like any cancer, lung cancer consists of abnormal cells that proliferate in an uncontrolled fashion, do not obey normal signals to die and cannot repair their DNA. Richard Gunderman, The Conversation, "The test that could save the life of a long-time smoker you know," 2 Sep. 2019 The readers are the most recent iteration of home security technology that have proliferated over the past few years as such equipment becomes more affordable, even as concerns about privacy and data breaches mount. Elise Schmelzer, The Denver Post, "Denver-area neighborhoods are installing license plate readers to record every vehicle that passes by," 9 July 2019 In the spring of 2018, a disease that has proliferated across some of southern Bangladesh struck this quiet corner of the country. Peter Schwartzstein, National Geographic, "This vanishing forest protects the coasts—and lives—of two countries," 17 June 2019 If all believers are priests, charged with working out their own salvation, then doctrinal divisions will necessarily proliferate. Sarah Jones, The New Republic, "What’s Next for Evangelicalism?," 7 June 2018 His chain of boutique hotels — known for celebrating local art and culture while retaining the history of the original buildings — proliferated across the country. Meagan Flynn, Washington Post, "How Gordon Sondland, a wealthy hotelier turned ambassador, became the latest key player in the Ukraine inquiry," 4 Oct. 2019 At the same time, frequent fires in some suburban foothills have allowed invasive, fast-burning plant species to encroach on homes, which are proliferating across the West’s mountain regions. Los Angeles Times, "Sprinklers and gadgets won’t save your home from a wildfire. What your neighbor does might," 3 Oct. 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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Time Traveler for proliferate

Time Traveler

The first known use of proliferate was in 1866

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Statistics for proliferate

Last Updated

27 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Proliferate.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/proliferative?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=p&file=prolif05. Accessed 6 December 2019.

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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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