|Patent diagram of the first escalator ("revolving stairs") - 1859|
This one got me. I admit it. I looked it up during edits on a WhiteFire book because I wasn't sure it was quite early enough in the sense used. And what do I find? A surprise!
Escalate is new. Darn new. As in, from 1922--and that's in the literal sense. It's actually a back-formation of escalator (from 1900). Before that, the verb had been escalade. Not so different a word, right? Except that escalade has exactly one meaning: "to use ladders to scale a fortified wall." Yeah, um...not how I use escalate!
So what of that meaning? The "to raise," or "to intensify" meaning? Well...that didn't come around until the Cold War! 1959 to be exact. I had no idea it was so new!