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Back-formation from escalator.


  • (UK, US) enPR: esʹ kə lāt, IPA(key): /ˈɛs.kə.leɪt/
  • (nonstandard) IPA(key): /ˈɛs.kjə.leɪt/
  • (file)


escalate (third-person singular simple present escalates, present participle escalating, simple past and past participle escalated)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To increase (something) in extent or intensity; to intensify or step up.
    Violence escalated during the election.
    The shooting escalated the existing hostility.
    A small fight escalated into a big fight.
    • 2020 May 6, Philip Haigh, “Just one more stop on the long journey to HS2 fulfillment [sic]”, in Rail, page 65:
      "Operating the WCML at this intensity makes it challenging to maintain acceptable performance levels, resulting in a frustratingly unreliable service for passengers. Minor disruption can escalate into significant delays because a train running only a few minutes late can miss its slot across a junction, resulting in a snowballing effect across the network."
  2. (transitive) In technical support, to transfer a customer, a problem, etc. to the next higher level of authority
    The tech 1 escalated the caller to a tech 2.
  3. (uncommon) To climb.
    • 1975, Federal Reporter, page 537:
      Thus, actually a prior uncounselled misdemeanor conviction may often prove to be a boon to one escalating the ladder of crime to the point where he has been convicted of a major aggravated offense.
    • 1977, Graham Jackson, The Coals of Juniper, Champion Publications, →ISBN, page 48:
      They escalated upstairs to the Mall coffee tables.
    • 1994, Richard A. D’Aveni, Hypercompetition: Managing the Dynamics of Strategic Maneuvering, The Free Press, →ISBN:
      Firms move to higher and higher levels of conflict in each arena, as if they are escalating up a ladder with each rung representing the new level of competition introduced by the last competitive maneuver.
    • 2000, Chris R. Jamison, The Chesler Legacy, Writer’s Showcase, →ISBN, page 30:
      James worked through the basics, escalating up the ladder of complex moves.
    • 2002, V. William Barrett, Sticks and Shovels: A Modern Western Mystery, Writers Club Press, →ISBN, page 68:
      We were escalating up a few hundred feet into the canyon.
    • 2003, Ducks Unlimited, page 51:
      “Pretty soon, I ended up on the committee, and from there it was pretty much escalating up the ladder as district chair; sponsor chair; and two, two-year terms as ladies state chair,” Sandi says.
    • 2004, Solly Border, I Won 1000 Battles but Lost the War, Publish For Less, →ISBN, page 9:
      Unlike everybody else, I moved in the opposite direction, escalating the ladder leading to the roof-top, so I’d watch the fireworks.
    • 2010, George Harpen, The Forbidden Palace of the Wiseman, AuthorHouse, →ISBN, page 115:
      The soul’s hand was within a few feet from his hand as he had not noticed that the souls were escalating up to where he was and as his soul screamed at him to look away.
    • 2012, Abdelhak Azzouzi, Moroccan Yearbook of Strategy and International Relations 2012, L’Harmattan, →ISBN, page 14:
      For needs of substantial natural resources such as oil, which can guarantee social peace in a majority of oil producing Arab States, Morocco would not be enjoying the position it has now on the international scene, had it not been for the fact that it has escalated the ladder in matters pertaining to democracy and economic liberalization.
    • 2016, Steve Kuehn, The Viridian Path, AuthorHouse, →ISBN:
      Escalating up the ladder, she looked straight into Alex’s eyes.
    • 2020, Raphael Israeli, Black Upon White: White Racism and Black Dignity in America: A Comparison with Arabs in Israel, Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Co., →ISBN, page 2:
      In the eyes of many Americans, the Blacks have been associated with poverty, backwardness and violence, even though many of them have escalated the ladder of success into the Middle Class, having realized the American dream in terms of prosperity, education, jobs, social and political positions and even attained the presidency with Barack Obama (2008-16).
    • 2022, Jean René Bazin PierrePierre, When Hugo Meets Shakespeare, volume 1, Xlibris, →ISBN:
      I don’t waste any time escalating ladders; / I break their portal chains when invading their forts / And tumble down their walls just like a ram batters / And wrestle their towers, ignoring the blatter / Of the great many folks; they shield from my efforts.
  4. (rare) To move by escalator.
    Synonym: escalator
    • 2000, David Damrosch, Meetings of the Mind, Princeton, N.J., Oxford: Princeton University Press, →ISBN, page 31:
      Escalator after escalator flowed up to the heights above, [] Dov escalated up beside me, scowling.
    • 2014, James Patterson, Burn (Michael Bennett), Arrow Books, published 2015, →ISBN, page 32:
      There were people just about everywhere, packing the garish fluorescent-lit corridors, riding in humming golf carts, escalating up and down escalators, floating along on those George Jetson moving sidewalk thingies.
    • 2022, Kes Gray, Daisy and the Trouble with London, Red Fox, →ISBN:
      Escalating up the up escalator at Green Park Tube station was a hundred times better than walking up two loads of steps at Oxford Circus.

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  1. second-person singular voseo imperative of escalar combined with te