Definition of propagate
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 : extendb : to foster growing knowledge of, familiarity with, or acceptance of (something, such as an idea or belief) : publicizec : to transmit (something, such as sound or light) through a medium
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)
propagativeplay \-ˌgā-tiv\ adjective
propagatorplay \-ˌgā-tər\ noun
propagate was our Word of the Day on 04/30/2008. Hear the podcast!
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.
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.
PROPAGATE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of propagate for English Language Learners
: to make (something, such as an idea or belief) known to many people
: to produce (a new plant)
PROPAGATE Defined for Kids
Definition of propagate for Students
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.
Medical Definition of propagate
transitive verb: 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
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up propagate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).