- to increase in intensity, magnitude, etc.: to escalate a war; a time when prices escalate.
- to raise, lower, rise, or descend on or as if on an escalator.
Origin of escalate
First recorded in 1920–25; back formation from escalator
SynonymsSee more synonyms for escalate on Thesaurus.com
1. advance, mount, swell.
1. lower, decrease, fall.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for escalate
Given the potential for a cyber tit-for-tat to escalate, Obama has even more incentive to find a diplomatic solution.Obama Could Hit China to Punish North Korea
Shane Harris, Tim Mak
December 20, 2014
It does, and certainly has, helped to escalate the crisis by having this militaristic response to it.Rory Kennedy on ‘Last Days in Vietnam,’ the Parallels Between Vietnam and Iraq, and Ferguson
September 1, 2014
Washington, in particular, has been loath to do anything that might escalate.Is North Korea Collecting American Hostages?
June 7, 2014
Since Sunday, senior U.S. officials have publicly warned Russia not to escalate the already delicate situation in the Ukraine.Putin’s Bluff? U.S. Spies Say Russia Won't Invade Ukraine
February 27, 2014
These skirmishes are expected to escalate and could eventually include rocket attacks into nearby Israeli towns.What Israel Really Thinks About Syria
May 23, 2013
- to increase or be increased in extent, intensity, or magnitudeto escalate a war; prices escalated because of inflation
C20: back formation from escalator
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Word Origin and History for escalate
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper