Definition of propagate in English:



[with object]
  • 1Breed specimens of (a plant or animal) by natural processes from the parent stock.

    ‘try propagating your own houseplants from cuttings’
    • ‘In order to obtain replicated phenotypic data, plants were vegetatively propagated through cuttings.’
    • ‘Gay shopped plant sales, propagated her own stock and taught her daughter how to take cuttings.’
    • ‘Clearly the method will not work if the stand of plants is clonally propagated because the equations will not solve.’
    • ‘Daylilies are very easily propagated by the division of old clumps.’
    • ‘There are over 30,000 different orchid species and well over 100,000 hybrid strains have been artificially propagated.’
    • ‘Thirty-two cuttings per clone were propagated and the stock plants were discarded.’
    • ‘Plants were propagated clonally and all material used was of the same genetic background.’
    • ‘These were monitoring variables like humidity and temperature, information that is invaluable to the horticulturalists attempting to propagate the trees.’
    • ‘Yeast and bacterial strains were propagated using standard methods.’
    • ‘The marigold is a lovely annual that can be propagated easily.’
    • ‘Cultivars must be vegetatively propagated using plant tissue culture and this is a time-consuming and costly process requiring large tracts of experimental fields.’
    • ‘As much as possible, mutants were vegetatively propagated to prevent loss of each genotype.’
    • ‘As with black Sampson coneflower, propagation by root division is rarely successful, so propagate this species by seed after moist stratification.’
    • ‘You can propagate evergreen shrubs by ground-layering.’
    • ‘You can propagate by division, from proliferations or pips, or from seed.’
    • ‘While blueberries are propagated commercially by tissue culture, they can be propagated by hardwood or softwood cuttings.’
    • ‘One of the easiest ways to propagate shrubs is by layering - bending down a branch so it roots directly in the soil.’
    • ‘Species are propagated by seed collected fresh and sown immediately in trays placed in a cold frame.’
    • ‘Rather than buying more plants, Eva Smith of Oklahoma propagates her own by layering.’
    • ‘Cultivated varieties are propagated clonally and very often a single genotype is planted in orchards.’
    breed, grow, cultivate, generate
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    1. 1.1no object (of a plant or animal) reproduce by natural processes.
      ‘the plant propagates freely from stem cuttings’
      • ‘They reduce wildfire damage, help fire-dependent species propagate, and remove competing species like red maple.’
      • ‘It has a 4-day life cycle and propagates as self-fertilizing hermaphrodites or by outcrossing after the spontaneous generation of males.’
      • ‘These factors allow the organism to propagate and acclimate to the host's internal environment.’
      • ‘If an animal is to grow to maturity and propagate, it must be able to take in nourishment and to navigate its way through the world.’
      • ‘Because molds and fungi propagate by means of airborne spores, they can cause respiratory problems.’
      • ‘Trees can propagate sexually or vegetatively.’
      • ‘Turning from the very small to the very large, mathematics has also proved useful in understanding how particular tree species propagate across a geographic region.’
      • ‘A new technique allows researchers to culture colonies of mouse brain stem cells that can either propagate without differentiating or become normal brain cells at the flip of a genetic switch.’
      • ‘He points out that multiple prion-based heritable states can propagate independently within one cell.’
      • ‘Some do not propagate freely nor continue with a satisfactory show of flower.’
      • ‘These plants propagate quite easily from root cuttings taken in spring.’
      • ‘Topics covered include the structure and mechanics of plants, how they adapt to the seasons, what roots do and how plants propagate and support themselves.’
      • ‘Likewise, detached roots of untransformed M. sativa (Aragón) plants were able to propagate in vitro.’
      • ‘We need to know how they nucleate and how they propagate.’
      reproduce, multiply, proliferate, breed, procreate, increase, spawn
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  • 2Spread and promote (an idea, theory, etc.) widely.

    ‘the French propagated the idea that the English were drunkards’
    • ‘Many textbooks continue to propagate the myth that symptoms can accurately identify peptic ulcer disease.’
    • ‘We live in a time when the opposite is being propagated by media and consumerist culture.’
    • ‘Personally, I have no interest in any academic school that propagates the idea that gender is a social construct.’
    • ‘Conventional art history narratives tend to propagate the idea that important art happens elsewhere, either outside Canada or in limited regions within the country.’
    • ‘The Republicans have successfully propagated the idea that his (admittedly unstable) temperament is the issue.’
    • ‘The bill did not propagate a radical new idea, he said, but one that had existed in various forms for more than a century.’
    • ‘That view, however widely it may be propagated, is so warped that it can only raise suspicions about the agenda of those who peddle it.’
    • ‘The pro-project group propagated the idea that the mining of bauxite was the only means for the area to cross the boundaries of backwardness.’
    • ‘He is strongly against such power when used thoughtlessly to propagate traditional ideas, which can be harmful.’
    • ‘The issue is further clouded by the plausible special pleading that the development industry has successfully propagated.’
    • ‘Locally, in earlier years, he was probably regarded as an eccentric as he propagated ideas which even the average Yorkshire brain had difficulty in assimilating.’
    • ‘I am an educator; I like to think that my ideas are propagated through education, but I don't want to force my work on people.’
    • ‘The Internet is a great way to raise money, and you can propagate a message on the Internet, but you can't sell a candidate on the Internet because politics is still intensely personal.’
    • ‘In October, the Trust is working to increase awareness on breast cancer and propagating suitable methods of prevention and detection of the disease.’
    • ‘This is the best material I've seen, so why not let us in the blogosphere propagate it?’
    • ‘I dislike theories that propagate the idea of one pole vs. another and indeed the idea that we, as a race, have somewhere to go.’
    • ‘By the simple expedient of asking a public official about a rumor and recording the fact that he didn't comment, the AP and countless newspapers have propagated the report.’
    • ‘We know the lies propagated by the media, law enforcement and even our own government.’
    • ‘By failing to do this, we are propagating a silent lie.’
    • ‘Let's propagate the idea that citizenship is a responsibility rather than a right.’
    spread, disseminate, communicate, pass on, put about, make known, promulgate, circulate, transmit, distribute, broadcast, publish, publicize, proclaim, preach, promote
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  • 3with adverbial of direction (with reference to motion, light, sound, etc.) transmit or be transmitted in a particular direction or through a medium.

    with object ‘electromagnetic effects can be propagated at a finite velocity only through material substances’
    no object ‘a hydraulic fracture is generally expected to propagate in a vertical plane’
    • ‘As light is propagated through a biological medium, components of that light are either propagated forward in the medium, absorbed by molecules, or scattered in all directions within the medium.’
    • ‘Besides, why may not motion have been propagated by impulse through all eternity, and the same stock of it, or nearly the same, be still upheld in the universe?’
    • ‘Sound waves are propagated within a medium, and simply do not exist ‘in the absence of interactions’.’
    • ‘The result is that sharp signals cannot be propagated.’
    • ‘It is only when mysteriously united to a body that spirit is brought into relationship with place or extension, and under such a condition alone, and only through such a medium, can it propagate motion.’


Late Middle English: from Latin propagat- ‘multiplied from layers or shoots’, from the verb propagare; related to propago ‘young shoot’ (from a base meaning ‘fix’).