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From Escalator created by American inventor Charles Seeberger in 1900, from Latin e (from", "out of) + scala (ladder) + -or, which forms nouns of agency. Formerly a trademark. See: the appendix. Broader usage may be influenced by escalate. For an alternative etymology, see Online Etymology Dictionary.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈɛs.kə.leɪ.tə/
  • (US) enPR: esʹkə-lā-tər, IPA(key): /ˈɛs.kə.leɪ.tɚ/
  • Hyphenation: es‧ca‧la‧tor


escalator (plural escalators)

  1. A motor-driven mechanical device consisting of a continuous loop of steps that automatically conveys people from one floor to another.
  2. An upward or progressive course.
    • 2009‎ ‎Feb 19, Froma Harrop, “Housing aid may revive American dream for Latinos”, Houston Chronicle:
      Lots of people fell for the pitch that real estate was an up-only escalator into the American Dream
  3. An escalator clause.
    They agreed to a cost-of-living escalator.

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