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escalate

[es-kuh-leyt]
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verb (used with or without object), es·ca·lat·ed, es·ca·lat·ing.
  1. to increase in intensity, magnitude, etc.: to escalate a war; a time when prices escalate.
  2. to raise, lower, rise, or descend on or as if on an escalator.
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Origin of escalate

First recorded in 1920–25; back formation from escalator
Related formses·ca·la·tion, nounes·ca·la·to·ry [es-kuh-luh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] /ˈɛs kə ləˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i/, adjectivenon·es·ca·lat·ing, adjectivenon·es·ca·la·to·ry, adjectivere·es·ca·late, verb, re·es·ca·lat·ed, re·es·ca·lat·ing.re·es·ca·la·tion, noun

Synonyms

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1. advance, mount, swell.

Antonyms

1. lower, decrease, fall.

Pronunciation note

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for escalation

escalate

verb
  1. to increase or be increased in extent, intensity, or magnitudeto escalate a war; prices escalated because of inflation
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Derived Formsescalation, noun

Word Origin

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 escalation

n.

derived noun from escalate; in the figurative sense it is from 1938, in reference to the battleship arms race among global military powers.

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escalate

v.

1922, back-formation from escalator, replacing earlier verb escalade (1801), from the noun escalade. Escalate came into general use with a figurative sense of "raise" after 1959 in reference to the possibility of nuclear war. Related: Escalated; escalating.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

escalation in Culture

escalation

An increase in the intensity or geographical scope of a war or diplomatic confrontation. For example, during the Korean War, some Americans urged escalation of the war through bombing of the People's Republic of China.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.