Definition of propagate in US English:



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

    ‘try propagating your own houseplants from cuttings’
    • ‘Species are propagated by seed collected fresh and sown immediately in trays placed in a cold frame.’
    • ‘As much as possible, mutants were vegetatively propagated to prevent loss of each genotype.’
    • ‘These were monitoring variables like humidity and temperature, information that is invaluable to the horticulturalists attempting to propagate the trees.’
    • ‘While blueberries are propagated commercially by tissue culture, they can be propagated by hardwood or softwood cuttings.’
    • ‘In order to obtain replicated phenotypic data, plants were vegetatively propagated through cuttings.’
    • ‘One of the easiest ways to propagate shrubs is by layering - bending down a branch so it roots directly in the soil.’
    • ‘You can propagate evergreen shrubs by ground-layering.’
    • ‘Cultivars must be vegetatively propagated using plant tissue culture and this is a time-consuming and costly process requiring large tracts of experimental fields.’
    • ‘You can propagate by division, from proliferations or pips, or from seed.’
    • ‘Gay shopped plant sales, propagated her own stock and taught her daughter how to take cuttings.’
    • ‘The marigold is a lovely annual that can be propagated easily.’
    • ‘There are over 30,000 different orchid species and well over 100,000 hybrid strains have been artificially propagated.’
    • ‘As with black Sampson coneflower, propagation by root division is rarely successful, so propagate this species by seed after moist stratification.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Yeast and bacterial strains were propagated using standard methods.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    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’
      • ‘It has a 4-day life cycle and propagates as self-fertilizing hermaphrodites or by outcrossing after the spontaneous generation of males.’
      • ‘He points out that multiple prion-based heritable states can propagate independently within one cell.’
      • ‘Because molds and fungi propagate by means of airborne spores, they can cause respiratory problems.’
      • ‘We need to know how they nucleate and how they propagate.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Trees can propagate sexually or vegetatively.’
      • ‘These plants propagate quite easily from root cuttings taken in spring.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Likewise, detached roots of untransformed M. sativa (Aragón) plants were able to propagate in vitro.’
      • ‘They reduce wildfire damage, help fire-dependent species propagate, and remove competing species like red maple.’
      • ‘These factors allow the organism to propagate and acclimate to the host's internal environment.’
      • ‘Some do not propagate freely nor continue with a satisfactory show of flower.’
      • ‘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.’
      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 violent and gluttonous drunkards’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The bill did not propagate a radical new idea, he said, but one that had existed in various forms for more than a century.’
    • ‘In October, the Trust is working to increase awareness on breast cancer and propagating suitable methods of prevention and detection of the disease.’
    • ‘Conventional art history narratives tend to propagate the idea that important art happens elsewhere, either outside Canada or in limited regions within the country.’
    • ‘We know the lies propagated by the media, law enforcement and even our own government.’
    • ‘This is the best material I've seen, so why not let us in the blogosphere propagate it?’
    • ‘Let's propagate the idea that citizenship is a responsibility rather than a right.’
    • ‘Personally, I have no interest in any academic school that propagates the idea that gender is a social construct.’
    • ‘We live in a time when the opposite is being propagated by media and consumerist culture.’
    • ‘Many textbooks continue to propagate the myth that symptoms can accurately identify peptic ulcer disease.’
    • ‘He is strongly against such power when used thoughtlessly to propagate traditional ideas, which can be harmful.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The Republicans have successfully propagated the idea that his (admittedly unstable) temperament is the issue.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘By failing to do this, we are propagating a silent lie.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    spread, disseminate, communicate, pass on, put about, make known, promulgate, circulate, transmit, distribute, broadcast, publish, publicize, proclaim, preach, promote
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  • 3(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’
    ‘a propagated electrical signal’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Sound waves are propagated within a medium, and simply do not exist ‘in the absence of interactions’.’
    • ‘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?’


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’).