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escalate (v.)

1922, "to use an escalator," back-formation from escalator, replacing earlier verb escalade (1801), from the noun escalade. Escalate came into general use with a figurative sense of "raise" from 1959 (intrans.), originally in reference to scenarios for possible nuclear war. Related: Escalated; escalating. Transitive figurative sense is by 1962.

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Definitions of escalate from WordNet

escalate (v.)
increase in extent or intensity;
The Allies escalated the bombing
Synonyms: intensify / step up
From wordnet.princeton.edu