Definition of pullulate in US English:



[no object]often as adjective pullulating
  • 1Breed or spread so as to become extremely common.

    ‘the pullulating family’
    • ‘People have had patches of their skin sterilized: cleaned of all those pullulating bacterial parasites.’
    • ‘The condition of the theatre was such that we had to assume that the pullulating colony of feral cats who inhabit the shed had been making their own entertainment in the winter evenings.’
    • ‘The hardest, foulest, most odious fact of all that he has to acknowledge is that much of his uncle, blood-kin truly, as of his mother, and no doubt his greatly admired father as well, is pullulating in him and in all of us.’
    • ‘It had one other advantage; at a time when the young king was taking his first steps as a ruler, the Mentor, as Maurepas was generally known, provided a screen between him and the pullulating factions of Versailles.’
    • ‘And books, everywhere, sprouting like mushrooms in a greenhouse, pullulating on shelves, in shoots that teeter at navel height like cubist stalagmites.’
    sprout, shoot up, spring up, develop, bud, burst forth, germinate, bloom
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Be very crowded; be full of life and activity.
      ‘the supertowers of our pullulating megalopolis’
      • ‘Although he never married, Hooker's flat on the Brighton sea-front pullulated with friends, widows of friends and innumerable godchildren.’
      • ‘Lilywhite wards and the astringent smell of disinfectant had turned into a sad and pullulating slum, the saving grace being the medical orderlies who had refused to surrender.’
      • ‘This was early Tharp, and pullulated with groundbreaking ideas.’
      crowded, filled, packed, teeming, seething, swarming, crawling, crammed, thronged, bursting at the seams, solid, overflowing, choked, jammed, congested
      View synonyms


Early 17th century: from Latin pullulat- ‘sprouted’, from the verb pullulare, from pullulus, diminutive of pullus ‘young animal’.