[ prop-uh-geyt ]
See synonyms for: propagatepropagatedpropagatespropagating on

verb (used with object),prop·a·gat·ed, prop·a·gat·ing.
  1. to cause (an organism) to multiply by any process of natural reproduction from the parent stock.

  2. to reproduce (itself, its kind, etc.), as an organism does.

  1. to transmit (hereditary features or elements) to, or through, offspring.

  2. to spread (a report, doctrine, practice, etc.) from person to person; disseminate.

  3. to cause to increase in number or amount.

  4. to create (an effect) at a distance, as by electromagnetic waves, compression waves, etc., traveling through space or a physical medium; transmit: to propagate sound.

  5. to spread (a disease) from one individual to another: Dr. John Atlee believed believed that filthy living conditions probably propagated cholera.

  6. Computers. to cause (an update or other alteration) to take effect throughout a network of devices:The active master database replicates updates to the standby master database, which propagates the updates to the subscribers.

verb (used without object),prop·a·gat·ed, prop·a·gat·ing.
  1. to multiply by any process of natural reproduction, as organisms; breed.

  2. to increase in extent, as a structural flaw: The crack will propagate only to this joint.

  1. (of electromagnetic waves, compression waves, etc.) to travel through space or a physical medium.

  2. Computers. to take effect throughout a network of devices.

Origin of propagate

First recorded in 1560–70; from Latin propāgātus (past participle of propāgāre “to reproduce (a plant) by cuttings, spread for sprouting, propagate, enlarge),” equivalent to propāg(ēs) “something set out, scion, slip” (pro- pro-1 + pāg-, base of pangere “to fasten” + -ēs noun suffix) + -ātus -ate1

Other words from propagate

  • prop·a·ga·tive, prop·a·ga·to·ry [prop-uh-guh-tawr-ee], /ˈprɒp ə gəˌtɔr i/, adjective
  • prop·a·ga·tor, noun
  • non·prop·a·ga·tive, adjective
  • self-prop·a·gat·ing, adjective
  • un·prop·a·ga·tive, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use propagate in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for propagate


/ (ˈprɒpəˌɡeɪt) /

  1. biology to reproduce or cause to reproduce; breed

  2. (tr) horticulture to produce (plants) by layering, grafting, cuttings, etc

  1. (tr) to promulgate; disseminate

  2. physics to move through, cause to move through, or transmit, esp in the form of a wave: to propagate sound

  3. (tr) to transmit (characteristics) from one generation to the next

Origin of propagate

C16: from Latin propāgāre to increase (plants) by cuttings, from propāgēs a cutting, from pangere to fasten

Derived forms of propagate

  • propagation, noun
  • propagational, adjective
  • propagative, adjective

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