Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To increase, enlarge, or intensify: escalated the hostilities in the Persian Gulf.
  • intransitive v. To increase in intensity or extent: "a deepening long-term impasse that is certain to escalate” ( Stewart L. Udall).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. to increase (something) in extent or intensity; to intensify or step up
  • v. in technical support, to transfer a telephone caller to the next higher level of authority

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. increase in extent or intensity

Etymologies

Back-formation from escalator.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Back-formation from escalator. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The term escalate became popular during the Vietnam War and refers to the United States' significantly increasing its involvement, but the term also carries an undertone of blunder.

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  • Among an estimated eight Republicans who've publicly said they, too, oppose the president's plan, several told CNN the word escalate in the resolution was a red flag they would not be able to support.

    CNN Transcript Jan 17, 2007

  • As things escalate from the merely unacceptable to the downright outrageous, however, Andrea begins to realize that the job a million girls would die for may just kill her.

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  • Here is where the. system can escalate from a clash over some incident in Berlin to wholesale nuclear annihilation.

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  • There is nothing new in Haikal's argument, this salary issue reported by many American writers also, but Jordan's anger came because this issue raised for the first time on popular Aljazeera TV in Arabic. escalate the problem by lowering its representation in the coming Arab summit in Doha.

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  • He talks in detail about the way things escalate, which is true for most of us.

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  • Big 4 labels escalate attack on The Pirate Bay p2pnet news view Freedom | P2P:- Vivendi Universal, EMI, Warner Music and Sony Music who, since Day One, have been the leaders in entertainment cartel attacks on the online P2P sharing communities, have upped the ante against The Pirate Bay four, Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi (top), Frederik Neij (left), Gottfrid Svartholm Warg (centre) and Carl Lundström.

    Big 4 labels escalate attack on The Pirate Bay

  • Big 4 labels escalate attack on The Pirate Bay next »

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  • And as this situation begins to escalate, not to mention the U.S. troops there as well, as this situation begins to escalate, that is on everyone's mind in that part of the world.

    CNN Transcript Jul 5, 2006

  • This problem will only escalate, which is why I am trying to ascertain exactly what the Iconians really want.

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