What It Means
1 : to grow or cause to grow by rapid production of new parts, cells, buds, or offspring
2 : to increase or cause to increase in number as if by proliferating : multiply
"Muskies in Lake St. Clair are a world-class presence because local folks 30 years ago got smart. They agreed on a catch-and-release ethic. Catch the muskie. Put it back into the water. And watch a species proliferate." — Lynn Henning, The Detroit News, 26 December 2018
"The surge in the price of bitcoin, and of other cryptocurrencies, which proliferated amid a craze for initial coin offerings, prompted a commensurate explosion in the number of stories and conversations about this new kind of money…." — Nicholas Paumgarten, The New Yorker, 22 Oct. 2018
Did You Know?
Proliferate is a back-formation of proliferation. That means that proliferation came first (we borrowed it from French in the 18th century) and was later shortened to form the verb proliferate. Ultimately these terms come from Latin. The French adjective prolifère ("reproducing freely") comes from the Latin noun proles and the Latin combining form -fer. Proles means "offspring" or "descendants," and -fer means "bearing." Both of these Latin forms gave rise to numerous other English words. Prolific and proletarian ultimately come from proles; aquifer and words ending in -ferous have their roots in -fer.
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