Meaning of “accumulate” in the English Dictionary

"accumulate" in British English

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uk /əˈkjuː.mjə.leɪt/ us /əˈkjuː.mjə.leɪt/

C2 [ T ] to collect a large number of things over a long period of time:

As people accumulate more wealth, they tend to spend a greater proportion of their incomes.
The company said the debt was accumulated during its acquisition of nine individual businesses.
We've accumulated so much rubbish over the years.

C2 [ I ] to gradually increase in number or amount:

A thick layer of dust had accumulated in the room.
If you don't go through the papers on your desk on a regular basis, they just keep on accumulating.

More examples

  • It can be dangerous to let too much soot accumulate inside a chimney.
  • During a successful business career, she accumulated a great amount of wealth.
  • After a long career in the antiques trade, Harry had accumulated many rare treasures.
  • During our six years in this house, we seem to have accumulated an awful lot of junk.
  • Why don't you just do a little ironing every now and then, instead of letting it accumulate?

(Definition of “accumulate” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"accumulate" in American English

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accumulateverb [ I/T ]

us /əˈkjum·jəˌleɪt/

to collect or increase something gradually, esp. over a period of time:

[ T ] We’ve accumulated a lot of junk over the years.
[ T ] He accumulated a fortune in the music business.
noun [ C/U ] us /əˌkjum·jəˈleɪ·ʃən/

[ U ] the accumulation of wealth

(Definition of “accumulate” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"accumulate" in Business English

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uk /əˈkjuːmjəleɪt/ us

[ I ] to gradually increase in amount:

While the deficit was allowed to accumulate, nothing was done to address the problem.

[ T ] to collect an amount of something over a period of time:

The table shows what you need to save monthly to accumulate $1 million by age 65.
accumulate/debts/losses/wealth The report also said a further 90,000 households had accumulated wealth of more than £1m.

(Definition of “accumulate” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)