What does ‘pullulated’ mean?

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Increase your vocabulary and you’ll make your writing much more precise. That’s why I provide a word of the week. Today’s word: pullulated. 

I may not know the precise meaning of a word but I seldom meet one I have never heard or seen before. Hence my surprise when I came across the word, pullulated.

I encountered it in the May 23/16 New Yorker, in a review of the Manhattan restaurant Hangawi by Nicolas Niarchos. Here is how Niarchos used the word:

Recently, a vegan take on Mongolian hot pot, upon whose rim was perched a skewer of date, walnut, maitaki mushroom, and tofu, pullulated with sweet-potato noodles, and was just the right amount of spicy.

According to my dictionary, it means to be crowded or common or to be full of life. In the photo at the top of this post, for example, the New York street scene may be said to be pullulating with activity.

The verb, which dates back to the early 1600s, is derived from the Latin pullulatus, past participle of pullulate meaning to “put forth, grow, sprout, shoot up, come forth,” from pullulus, diminutive of pulls meaning a “young animal.”

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