ram·​i·​fy | \ ˈra-mə-ˌfī How to pronounce ramify (audio) \
ramified; ramifying

Definition of ramify

intransitive verb

1 : to split up into branches or constituent parts
2 : to send forth branches or extensions

transitive verb

1 : to cause to branch
2 : to separate into divisions

How Ramify Branched Off Latin

Ramify has been part of English since the 15th century and is an offshoot of the Latin word for "branch," which is "ramus." English acquired several scientific words from "ramus," including "biramous" ("having two branches"). Another English word derived from "ramus" is the now obsolete ramage, meaning "untamed" or "wild." "Ramage" originated in falconry-it was initially used of young hawks that had begun to fly from branch to branch in trees. "Ramify" started out as a scientific word, at first referring to branching parts of plants and trees and later to veins and nerves, but it soon branched out into non-scientific and even figurative uses, as in "ideas that ramify throughout society."

Examples of ramify in a Sentence

the rise of cable television ramified the audience, creating ever smaller segments for an ever growing array of programming choices
Recent Examples on the Web But in complex technological systems, small mistakes may rapidly ramify and compound into large problems. Naomi Oreskes, Scientific American, 16 Aug. 2021 But as the forking paths continue to ramify, Truth is to be found not in one place, but everywhere. Hari Kunzru, Harpers Magazine, 5 Jan. 2021 These troubles ramify, with a brilliant dramatic turn, when a Philadelphia hipster (Théodore Pellerin), who earlier targeted the girls with urgent and unwanted flirtation, turns up again, in the film's third act. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 12 Mar. 2020 Over subsequent decades, the explanations would ramify and mutate. The Economist, 20 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ramify.' 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 ramify

15th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for ramify

Middle English ramifien, from Anglo-French ramifier, from Medieval Latin ramificare, from Latin ramus branch; akin to Latin radix root — more at root

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The first known use of ramify was in the 15th century

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ramiform pit



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Cite this Entry

“Ramify.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ramify. Accessed 6 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for ramify


intransitive verb
ram·​i·​fy | \ ˈram-ə-ˌfī How to pronounce ramify (audio) \
ramified; ramifying

Medical Definition of ramify

: to split up into branches or constituent parts

More from Merriam-Webster on ramify

Nglish: Translation of ramify for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ramify for Arabic Speakers


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