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)

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Other Words from propagate

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

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Predictably, the public-health representatives were resistant, too: travel bans slowed down emergency assistance, and viruses found ways to propagate no matter what. Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker, "The Plague Year," 28 Dec. 2020 Why would someone so smart propagate such stupidity about how this virus spreads and harms? David Beers, The New Republic, "Selling the American Space Dream," 7 Dec. 2020 This is down to the long-standing desire of conifer connoisseurs to discover branch mutations and from them propagate slow-growing versions known as dwarf conifers. Washington Post, "Winter wonders: Conifers revive the sleeping garden. But remember, less is more.," 2 Dec. 2020 It’s everything a Nepenthes lover could ask for and is easy to propagate from vine cuttings. Dylan Sheng, Sunset Magazine, "7 Carnivorous Plants Anyone Can Grow Indoors," 14 Oct. 2020 The milestones are exciting, but any new technology that requires a massive new type of infrastructure—in this case, a tube that’s nearly a vacuum—is not going to propagate overnight, or ever, necessarily. Rob Verger, Popular Science, "The first hyperloop passengers just took a short but important ride," 11 Nov. 2020 Dividing is also a great way to propagate your amaryllises. Dan Gill, NOLA.com, "Get the dramatic look of amaryllises in your home for the holidays, but you have to pot them now," 11 Nov. 2020 These gorgeous deciduous trees often propagate through a shared root system, forming a large clonal grove. Roshan Patel, National Geographic, "How will travel be better after the pandemic?," 6 Oct. 2020 The best-case scenario for nursery owners, Dupont said, is to propagate your own, which requires time and space. Jennifer Bolton, Houston Chronicle, "Houston's rare plant business is blooming because of the pandemic," 13 Oct. 2020

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for propagate

Time Traveler

The first known use of propagate was in 1535

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Statistics for propagate

Last Updated

19 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Propagate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/propagate. Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for propagate

propagate

verb
How to pronounce propagate (audio)

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 propagate (audio) \ adjective
propagative \ -​ˌgāt-​iv How to pronounce propagate (audio) \ adjective

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Comments on propagate

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