propagate

verb
prop·​a·​gate | \ ˈprä-pə-ˌgāt How to pronounce propagate (audio) \
propagated; propagating

Definition of propagate

transitive verb

1 : to cause to continue or increase by sexual or asexual reproduction
2 : to pass along to offspring
3a : to cause to spread out and affect a greater number or greater area : extend
b : to foster growing knowledge of, familiarity with, or acceptance of (something, such as an idea or belief) : publicize
c : to transmit (something, such as sound or light) through a medium

intransitive verb

1 : to multiply sexually or asexually
3 : to travel through space or a material used of wave energy (such as light, sound, or radio waves)

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from propagate

propagative \ ˈprä-​pə-​ˌgā-​tiv How to pronounce propagative (audio) \ adjective
propagator \ ˈprä-​pə-​ˌgā-​tər How to pronounce propagator (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for propagate

Synonyms

breed, multiply, procreate, reproduce

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Did You Know?

The origins of propagate are firmly rooted in the field of horticulture. The word was borrowed into English in the late 16th century from Latin propagatus, the past participle of the verb propagare, which means "to set (onto a plant) a small shoot or twig cut for planting or grafting." Propagare, in turn, derives from propages, meaning "layer (of a plant), slip, offspring." It makes sense, therefore, that the earliest uses of propagate referred to facilitating the reproduction of a plant or animal. Nowadays, however, the meaning of propagate can extend to the "reproduction" of something intangible, such as an idea or belief. Incidentally, propaganda also comes to us from propagare, although it took a somewhat different route into English.

Examples of propagate in a Sentence

We are discovering new ways to propagate plants without seeds. He propagated the apple tree by grafting. The plants failed to propagate.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

While scientists had tried to use cross-pollination, grafting, and tip cuttings to propagate the plant, none of their attempts were successful. Kristen Pope, National Geographic, "Extinct flower rediscovered in Hawaii, via drones," 18 Apr. 2019 The entire closure process is controlled by a small collection of panels where the two arms of the pincer meet; changes there simply propagate down the arms. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Earwig’s wing inspires compact designs that fold themselves," 23 Mar. 2018 Historians believe that Christianity was known to China as early as the seventh century, and was later propagated by Jesuit missionaries starting in the 1500s. Yanan Wang, Fox News, "Christian heartland opens window into fight for China's soul," 7 Aug. 2018 Fox News, of which Trump is an avid viewer and which often propagates his message, followed suit. Emily Stewart, Vox, "Fox News wants you to be very afraid of what’s happening at the border," 26 Nov. 2018 Their goal is to get the news media to negate that frame — and negate the conspirators who are propagating that frame. Casey Newton, The Verge, "How a new class of “digital martyrs” are manipulating social networks," 18 Sep. 2018 Android 9 brought the latest Material Design spec and launched a wave of UI updates that will eventually propagate across the entire Google ecosystem. Eric Bangeman, Ars Technica, "The 20 most-popular stories of 2018," 25 Dec. 2018 However well his battles play out, though, new ones are always necessary, as the crime bosses vie for supremacy and the drug families propagate a never-ending cycle of assassination and retribution. Tom Nolan, WSJ, "Mysteries: Drug Money All the Way Down," 22 Feb. 2019 The original Seth Rich conspiracy did not take off when initially propagated in July 2016 by fringe and pro-Russia sites, but only a year later, as Fox News revived it when James Comey was fired. Casey Newton, The Verge, "A majority of Americans don’t think social networks are good for the world," 21 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'propagate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of propagate

1535, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for propagate

Latin propagatus, past participle of propagare to set slips, propagate, from propages slip, offspring, from pro- before + pangere to fasten — more at pro-, pact

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about propagate

Listen to Our Podcast about propagate

Statistics for propagate

Last Updated

20 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for propagate

The first known use of propagate was in 1535

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for propagate

propagate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of propagate

formal : to make (something, such as an idea or belief) known to many people
technical : to produce (a new plant)

propagate

verb
prop·​a·​gate | \ ˈprä-pə-ˌgāt How to pronounce propagate (audio) \
propagated; propagating

Kids Definition of propagate

1 : to have or cause to have offspring : multiply You can propagate apple trees from seed.
2 : to cause (as an idea or belief) to spread out and affect a greater number or wider area The preacher traveled to propagate his faith.

propagate

verb
prop·​a·​gate | \ ˈpräp-ə-ˌgāt How to pronounce propagate (audio) \
propagated; propagating

Medical Definition of propagate

transitive verb

1 : to cause to continue or increase by sexual or asexual reproduction
2 : to cause to spread or to be transmitted

intransitive verb

: to multiply sexually or asexually

Other Words from propagate

propagable \ ˈpräp-​ə-​gə-​bəl How to pronounce propagable (audio) \ adjective
propagative \ -​ˌgāt-​iv How to pronounce propagative (audio) \ adjective

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on propagate

What made you want to look up propagate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to take the place or position of

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!