Definition of escalate in US English:



[no object]
  • 1Increase rapidly.

    ‘the price of tickets escalated’
    • ‘But the problem is that with rapidly escalating costs we are getting less for our money.’
    • ‘It is an example of how costs can escalate with private finance initiatives.’
    • ‘In turn, the increased prices caused health costs to escalate in a vicious circle.’
    • ‘More studies into the feasibility of a waste tunnel will cause yet more delays and cause costs to escalate further.’
    • ‘Beef prices are now at a twenty-year low while costs continue to escalate.’
    • ‘The rate of complaints is escalating and the ombudsman expects numbers to continue rising sharply.’
    • ‘This could give rise to a second appeal, with the council's legal costs possibly escalating to thousands of pounds.’
    • ‘The costs continue to escalate for the country and its people.’
    • ‘It is feared that as the cost of drugs escalates and financial pressure grows on the NHS, there will be many more similar disputes in future.’
    • ‘As the crime rate escalates, many citizens are faced with the difficult task of having to weigh their love for their country against their personal safety.’
    • ‘The authority has twice tried to sell it without success and the cost of repairs has escalated with the passing of time.’
    • ‘The burden could grow exponentially as the female participation rate in paid employment escalates.’
    • ‘The new parliament remains the centre of controversy as building costs escalate.’
    • ‘The main factor that will put a brake on house price rises next year will be gradually escalating interest rates.’
    • ‘Inflation and other building costs could cause the costs to escalate if there was significant delay in construction.’
    • ‘This frightened me so much that I agreed to try benzodiazepines, but doses escalated rapidly.’
    • ‘As the cost of education escalates, working class students are left out in the cold.’
    • ‘While costs were escalating all the time, we felt that the project would never be completed if we did not push ahead with the work.’
    • ‘Not surprisingly petrol prices increased during August as world oil prices continued to escalate.’
    • ‘The cost of the Games has risen to at least 6 billion euros, and many observers expect the costs to escalate even more.’
    increase rapidly, soar, rocket, shoot up, mount, surge, spiral, grow rapidly, rise rapidly, climb, go up
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    1. 1.1 Become or cause to become more intense or serious.
      no object ‘the disturbance escalated into a full-scale riot’
      with object ‘we do not want to escalate the war’
      • ‘In recent years, the battle of the sexes has escalated into a full-fledged gender war.’
      • ‘A row in a York supermarket car park escalated into a brawl inside the store, the city's crown court was told.’
      • ‘There is long-running rivalry between the two teams which has escalated into violence more than once.’
      • ‘A teenager has been charged with the murder of a man stabbed in Birmingham two weeks ago after an alleged argument escalated into a violent fight.’
      • ‘The situation is escalating at an alarming rate and I have been on the receiving end of a number of threats.’
      • ‘A local show of strength then escalated into a confrontation with police.’
      • ‘The argument escalated into a fight which was broken up by the other card players.’
      • ‘Soon the case is making headlines and the whole thing escalates rapidly.’
      • ‘It could easily have escalated into something far more serious, the spokesperson stressed.’
      • ‘Sources say they were kept quiet in order not to escalate the row with Russia.’
      • ‘It soon escalated into indiscriminate attacks on white motorists, the burning of cars and attacks on pubs and businesses.’
      • ‘Soon enough playful shoving escalated into an all-out war, which ended with Alex tackling Jamie to the floor.’
      • ‘It soon escalated into physical and mental abuse and within two months I left and moved in with a girlfriend.’
      • ‘She said the dispute escalated into a furious struggle between her and her husband, who was wielding a baseball bat.’
      • ‘Then, it escalated into a full-scale war as the armies began fighting on foreign land.’
      • ‘When you've made your point and the other party has made his point, please do not escalate it to a never-ending heated discussion.’
      • ‘Indeed, for each of these countries ethnic conflict has escalated into civil war.’
      • ‘I became involved in an incident that could easily have escalated into something really nasty.’
      • ‘Therefore there is the possibility that a relatively small problem may rapidly escalate into a crisis.’
      • ‘If the firefighters persevere with their eight-day strike this week, then matters could escalate rapidly.’
      grow, develop, mushroom, increase, be increased, be stepped up, build up, heighten, strengthen, intensify, accelerate, be extended, be enlarged, be magnified, be amplified
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1920s (in the sense ‘travel on an escalator’): back-formation from escalator.