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[es-kuh-leyt] /ˈɛs kəˌleɪt/
verb (used with object), verb (used without object), escalated, escalating.
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.
1920-25; back formation from escalator
Related forms
escalation, noun
[es-kuh-luh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] /ˈɛs kə ləˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i/ (Show IPA),
nonescalating, adjective
nonescalatory, adjective
reescalate, verb, reescalated, reescalating.
reescalation, noun
1. advance, mount, swell.
1. lower, decrease, fall.
Pronunciation note
See percolate. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for escalating
  • The movement is high-energy, rotating pelvises escalating into pure stomping.
  • escalating protests may be driving away some researchers.
  • escalating demand is hiking food prices while farmers clear rain-forest habitats to grow fuel crops.
  • Our economy can't stand the escalating costs for depleting fossil fuels.
  • Slower growth will mean both that existing coral will find it difficult to cope with escalating acidity and rising sea levels.
  • These findings may have far-reaching implications for the escalating problem of antibiotic resistance.
  • escalating costs make this more of a problem every year.
  • No one wants taxes or escalating costs, but there should be a cost involved in bringing something nearer to extinction.
  • In addition to the tweaks announced today, a remarkable real-time fight is escalating.
  • Here too costs have been escalating faster than their contributions are compounding.
British Dictionary definitions for escalating


to increase or be increased in extent, intensity, or magnitude: to escalate a war, prices escalated because of inflation
Derived Forms
escalation, 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
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Word Origin and History for escalating



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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