1. becoming greater in quantity, size, extent, or intensity: growing discontent among industrial workers.
  2. having or showing life.

verb (used without object), grew, grown, grow·ing.

  1. to increase by natural development, as any living organism or part by assimilation of nutriment; increase in size or substance.
  2. to form and increase in size by a process of inorganic accretion, as by crystallization.
  3. to arise or issue as a natural development from an original happening, circumstance, or source: Our friendship grew from common interests.
  4. to increase gradually in size, amount, etc.; become greater or larger; expand: His influence has grown.
  5. to become gradually attached or united by or as if by growth: The branches of the trees grew together, forming a natural arch.
  6. to come to be by degrees; become: to grow old.
  7. Nautical. to lie or extend in a certain direction, as an anchor cable.

verb (used with object), grew, grown, grow·ing.

  1. to cause to grow: They grow corn.
  2. to allow to grow: to grow a beard.
  3. to cover with a growth (used in the passive): a field grown with corn.

Verb Phrases

  1. grow into,
    1. to become large enough for: He’ll grow into his brother’s suits before long.
    2. to become mature or experienced enough for: She grew into the job, although she wasn’t qualified for it at first.
  2. grow on/upon,
    1. to increase in influence or effect: An uneasy feeling grew upon him as he went through the old house.
    2. to become gradually more liked or accepted by: a village by the sea that grows on one.
  3. grow out of,
    1. to become too large or mature for; outgrow: He has grown out of all his clothes.
    2. to originate in; develop from: The plan grew out of a casual conversation.
  4. grow up,
    1. to be or become fully grown; attain mental or physical maturity.
    2. to come into existence; arise: New cities grew up in the desert.
  1. grow a pair, Slang: Vulgar. pair1(def 23).

verb grows, growing, grew (ɡruː) or grown (ɡrəʊn)

  1. (of an organism or part of an organism) to increase in size or develop (hair, leaves, or other structures)
  2. (intr; usually foll by out of or from) to originate, as from an initial cause or sourcethe federation grew out of the Empire
  3. (intr) to increase in size, number, degree, etcthe population is growing rapidly
  4. (intr) to change in length or amount in a specified directionsome plants grow downwards; profits over the years grew downwards
  5. (copula; may take an infinitive) (esp of emotions, physical states, etc) to develop or come into existence or being graduallyto grow cold; to grow morose; he grew to like her
  6. (intr usually foll by up) to come into existencea close friendship grew up between them
  7. (intr foll by together) to be joined gradually by or as by growththe branches on the tree grew together
  8. (intr; foll by away, together, etc) to develop a specified state of friendshipthe lovers grew together gradually; many friends grow apart over the years
  9. (when intr, foll by with) to become covered with a growththe path grew with weeds
  10. to produce (plants) by controlling or encouraging their growth, esp for home consumption or on a commercial basis

Old English, present participle adjective from grow (v.). Growing season is attested from 1729; growing pains by 1752.


late 14c., verbal noun from grow (v.).


Old English growan (of plants) “to grow, flourish, increase, develop, get bigger” (class VII strong verb; past tense greow, past participle growen), from Proto-Germanic *gro- (cf. Old Norse groa, Old Frisian groia, Dutch groeien, Old High German gruoen), from PIE root *ghre- (see grass). Applied in Middle English to human beings (c.1300) and animals (early 15c.) and their parts, supplanting Old English weaxan (see wax (v.)).

Have you ever heard anything about God, Topsy? … Do you know who made you?” “Nobody, as I knows on,” said the child. … “I spect I grow’d. Don’t think nobody never made me.” [Harriet B. Stowe, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” 1851]


  1. To increase in size by a natural process.
  2. To develop and reach maturity.
  3. To be capable of growth; thrive.

In addition to the idioms beginning with grow

  • growing pains
  • grow into
  • grow on
  • grow out of
  • grow up

also see:

  • absence makes the heart grow fonder
  • let the grass grow under one’s feet
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