[ es-kuh-leyt ]
/ ˈɛs kəˌleɪt /

verb (used with or without object), es·ca·lat·ed, es·ca·lat·ing.

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.

Nearby words

  1. esc.,
  2. escabeche,
  3. escadrille,
  4. escadrille américaine,
  5. escalade,
  6. escalation,
  7. escalator,
  8. escalator clause,
  9. escalatory,
  10. escallonia

Origin of escalate

First recorded in 1920–25; back formation from escalator

Related forms

Pronunciation note Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for escalation

British Dictionary definitions for escalation


/ (ˈɛskəˌleɪt) /


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

Word Origin for escalate

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
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Culture definitions for 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.

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.