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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. Anything that escalates.
    • 2006, Dudley D. Cahn, ‎Ruth Anna Abigail, Managing Conflict Through Communication (page xiv)
      Fourth, communication researchers study the role of stress and negative attitudes as key contributors to conflict, anger as an escalator of conflict, and emotional residues as barriers to reconciliation.
  2. A motor-driven mechanical device consisting of a continuous loop of steps that automatically conveys people from one floor to another.
    • 2012, Andrew Martin, Underground Overground: A passenger's history of the Tube, Profile Books, →ISBN, pages xiv-xv, Preface:
      I found the Tube trains morbidly fascinating, I had a simpler enthusiasm for the escalators. Everyone likes going on escalators as far as I know. It feels like a free ride, and the longer they are, the better. The only escalator in York was at Marks & Spencer's, and people would hesitate for ages before getting on, apparently waiting for the right stair to come rolling along, whereas Londoners would step on while reading a newspaper.
  3. An upward or progressive course.
    • 2009 February 19, Froma Harrop, “Housing aid may revive American dream for Latinos”, in Houston Chronicle:
      Lots of people fell for the pitch that real estate was an up-only escalator into the American Dream
  4. An escalator clause.
    They agreed to a cost-of-living escalator.

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Borrowed from English. Genericized trademark.



escalator m (plural escalators)

  1. escalator
    Synonyms: escalier roulant, escalier mécanique