1 : to split up into branches or constituent parts
2 : to send forth branches or extensions
3 : to cause to branch
"In alternating chapters, 'The Lost Boy' moves back and forth in time, from a present-day whodunit set in a city … to a grim tale set in the 1870s on one of the myriad rocky islands lying off the coast. These narratives are related in fascinating ways, their threads crisscrossing and ramifying inventively." — Anthony Lewis, The Providence Journal, 27 Nov. 2016
"[H. G.] Wells was also publishing inspired books at a furious pace. His first were the scientific textbooks Honours Physiography and Text-book of Biology (both 1893); the latter went into many editions. The topics rapidly ramified. The year 1895 alone saw a short-story collection (The Stolen Bacillus and Other Incidents), a fantastic romance in which an angel falls to Earth (The Wonderful Visit) and a volume of essays, as well as his first full-length work of fiction, The Time Machine." — Simon J. James, Nature, 8 Sept. 2016
Did You Know?
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. The most common ramus word, though, is a direct descendant of ramify. Ramification in its oldest sense means "branch, offshoot," but is most commonly used to mean "consequence, outgrowth." 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."
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