Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To grow or multiply by rapidly producing new tissue, parts, cells, or offspring.
  • intransitive v. To increase or spread at a rapid rate: fears that nuclear weapons might proliferate.
  • transitive v. To cause to grow or increase rapidly.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To increase in number or spread rapidly.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To produce or form cells; especially, to produce cells rapidly.
  • transitive v. To produce zooids by budding.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To reproduce; grow by multiplication of elementary parts.
  • Specifically, in zoology, to generate or reproduce by the act of proliferation; bear generative persons or zoöids, as distinguished from nutritive persons, as is the usual process in the hydroid polyps.
  • To bear; form by reproduction.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. grow rapidly
  • v. cause to grow or increase rapidly

Etymologies

Back-formation from proliferation, the act of proliferating, from French prolifération, from prolifère, procreative : Latin prōlēs, prōl-, offspring; see proliferous + Latin -fer, -fer.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin proles ("offspring") + ferre ("to bear") + -ate (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • As titles for the entitled proliferate, we are in danger of becoming a nation of all chiefs and no Indians.

    Stephanie Pierson and Barbara Harrison: Job Titles: What to Do When No One Has a Clue

  • And as these labels proliferate to envelop just about every piece of unconventional childhood behavior, our view of what is normal is shrinking.

    You’re a Better Parent Than You Think!

  • Momentum trades-trades, not investments- can gather momentum on the downside in a steeper run if the margin calls proliferate.

    Forbes.com: News

  • "As the definition quality of digital cameras increases, playback devices such as proliferate, and the use of the Internet for downloading music and video continues to grow, more files accumulate in the home," said Parks Vice President Kurt Scherf.

    Yahoo! News: Top Stories

  • We went up to that high poverty neighborhood, where crime scene tapes proliferate and unemployed men linger on street corners.

    John Merrow: A Paradox? Or Just a Contradiction?

  • Nuclear weapons were reduced, but not abolished, and they continued to proliferate to new countries.

    The Return

  • And the possibilities in your future will proliferate alongside your prosperity.

    Lighten Up

  • At night he hung out in the bars that proliferate throughout Dubai, the biggest and showiest of the emirates and a short drive from his house in Ajman.

    Fallout

  • The end of a year comes around, or in this case a decade, and lists proliferate the Internet.

    Wish List Wednesday #26: "Sandman Slim"

  • And the novelty trend may grow tiresome as even the oddest events proliferate.

    Cashathon: The Rise of Charity Races

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