propagate

verb

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

transitive verb

1
: to cause to continue or increase by sexual or asexual reproduction
2
: to pass along to offspring
3
a
: 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
2
3
: to travel through space or a material
used of wave energy (such as light, sound, or radio waves)
propagative adjective
propagator noun

Did you know?

The origins of propagate are firmly rooted in the field of horticulture. The word is a 16th century Latin borrowing, ultimately from the verb propagare, which means "to set (onto a plant) a small shoot or twig cut for planting or grafting." The word's meaning quickly extended from the realm of the farm and field to less material kinds of reproduction, such as the spreading of ideas and beliefs. The similarity between propagate and propaganda is not coincidental; that word also comes to us from propagare, although it took a more circuitous route.

Example Sentences

We are discovering new ways to propagate plants without seeds. He propagated the apple tree by grafting. The plants failed to propagate.
Recent Examples on the Web The Nobel committee cited the economists’ early research, including Bernanke’s influential 1983 paper that explained how bank failures can propagate a financial crisis rather than simply be a result of one. Jeanna Smialek, BostonGlobe.com, 10 Oct. 2022 The Nobel committee cited the economists’ early research, including Mr. Bernanke’s influential 1983 paper that explained how bank failures can propagate a financial crisis rather than simply be a result of one. Jeanna Smialek, New York Times, 10 Oct. 2022 The crew members are tasked with cataloging human knowledge and history, hoping, eventually, to arrive somewhere the human species can propagate. Oliver Munday, The Atlantic, 27 Nov. 2022 Other varieties that are particularly easy to propagate include ferns, pothos, hoya, kalanchoe and pilea peperomioides. Jandra Sutton, Washington Post, 14 Nov. 2022 Entanglement seems to violate special relativity, which says that effects cannot propagate faster than the speed of light. John Horgan, Scientific American, 24 Oct. 2022 If the compression of the fuel is symmetrical enough, fusion reactions begin in a central hot spot and propagate smoothly outward, with the heat from fusion sparking more burning. Bydaniel Clery, science.org, 13 Dec. 2022 With the passage of each season, more oysters will propagate the vertical reef creating a self-sustaining habitat. Sucheta Rawal, ajc, 12 Dec. 2022 The right time to propagate hydrangeas, including 'Berry White,' is from late spring through early fall. Andrea Beck, Better Homes & Gardens, 2 Dec. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

1535, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of propagate was in 1535

Podcast

Dictionary Entries Near propagate

Cite this Entry

“Propagate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/propagate. Accessed 31 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition

propagate

verb
prop·​a·​gate ˈpräp-ə-ˌgāt How to pronounce propagate (audio)
propagated; propagating
1
: to have or cause to have offspring : multiply sense 1
ways to propagate plants without seeds
propagate an apple by grafting
2
: to cause (as an idea or belief) to spread out and affect a greater number or wider area
propagate a faith

Medical Definition

propagate

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

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
propagable adjective
propagative adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on propagate

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