v. grew (gr), grown (grōn), grow·ing, grows
1. To increase in size by a natural process.
a. To expand; gain: The business grew under new owners.
b. To increase in amount or degree; intensify: The suspense grew.
3. To develop and reach maturity.
4. To be capable of growth; thrive: a plant that grows in shade.
5. To become attached by or as if by the process of growth: tree trunks that had grown together.
6. To come into existence from a source; spring up: love that grew from friendship.
7. To come to be by a gradual process or by degrees; become: grow angry; grow closer.
1. To cause to grow; raise: grow tulips.
2. To allow (something) to develop or increase by a natural process: grow a beard.
3. Usage Problem To cause to increase or expand by concerted effort: strategies that grew the family business.
1. To develop so as to become: A boy grows into a man.
2. To develop or change so as to fit: She grew into her job. He grew into the relationship slowly.
grow on (or upon)
1. To become gradually more evident to: A feeling of distrust grew on me.
2. To become gradually more pleasurable or acceptable to: a taste that grows on a person.
To become an adult.
grow out of
To develop or come into existence from: an article that grew out of a few scribbled notes.
[Middle English growen, from Old English grōwan; see ghrē- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Usage Note: Grow is most often used as an intransitive verb, as in The corn grew fast or Our business has been growing steadily for 10 years. This use dates back to the Middle Ages. In the 1700s, a transitive sense arose with the meaning "to produce or cultivate," as in We grow corn in our garden. Then, starting in the late 1900s, people began to use grow with a nonliving thing or even an abstraction as the direct object, often in the context of politics or business, as in One of our key strategies is to grow our business by increasing the number of clients. This trend was widely criticized. In 1992, only 20 percent of the Usage Panel accepted the sentence above, and only 48 percent accepted We've got to grow our way out of this recession. These usages remain common, however, and resistance to them has lessened: in 2014, 60 percent of the Panel accepted the grow our business sentence, and 65 percent accepted the grow our way out of the recession sentence. But Panelists strongly frown upon the phrase grow down, probably because it seems oxymoronic: 96 percent of the Panel found it unacceptable.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.