di·​late | \ ˈdī-ˌlāt How to pronounce dilate (audio) , dī-ˈlāt How to pronounce dilate (audio) \
dilated; dilating

Definition of dilate

intransitive verb

1 : to become wide : swell the pupil of the eye dilates and contracts
2 : to comment at length : discourse usually used with on or upon dilating upon themes of love and death

transitive verb

1 : to enlarge or expand in bulk or extent : distend, widen dilate our cultural knowledge … long after Italian women used drops of belladonna to artificially dilate their pupils.— Michael H. Robinson
2 archaic : to describe or set forth at length or in detail dilate at full what hath befallen of them— Shakespeare

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from dilate

dilatability \ (ˌ)dī-​ˌlā-​tə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce dilate (audio) \ noun
dilatable \ dī-​ˈlā-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce dilate (audio) , ˈdī-​ˌlā-​ How to pronounce dilate (audio) \ adjective
dilator \ dī-​ˈlā-​tər How to pronounce dilate (audio) , ˈdī-​ˌlā-​ \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for dilate

expand, amplify, swell, distend, inflate, dilate mean to increase in size or volume. expand may apply regardless of the manner of increase (such as growth, unfolding, addition of parts). a business that expands every year amplify implies the extension or enlargement of something inadequate. amplify the statement with details swell implies gradual expansion beyond a thing's original or normal limits. the bureaucracy swelled to unmanageable proportions distend implies outward extension caused by pressure from within. a distended abdomen inflate implies expanding by introduction of air or something insubstantial and suggests a vulnerability to sudden collapse. an inflated ego dilate applies especially to expansion of circumference. dilated pupils

Examples of dilate in a Sentence

The drug causes the blood vessels to dilate. During labor, a woman's cervix will dilate to about 10 centimeters. The drug dilates the blood vessels.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Blueberries and strawberries contain anthocyanin (an-tho-SY-a-nin), a phytonutrient that may help dilate arteries, counter the buildup of plaque and reduce inflammation. Darlene Zimmerman, Detroit Free Press, "Berry lovers, rejoice! These nutrient-rich crepes are the breakfast of your dreams," 10 Apr. 2021 To watch the series and the documentary is to dilate, helplessly, on what has changed (or not) in the past 30 or so years. New York Times, "‘Kid 90’ and the Days When Even Wild TV Teens Had Privacy," 26 Mar. 2021 It’s this phenomenon that allows blood vessels to dilate and lower blood pressure. Chris Smith, BGR, "This drink you have in your home right now can lower blood pressure, and now we know why," 14 Mar. 2021 One such phytonutrient in strawberries is anthocyanin (an-tho-SY-a-nin), which may help dilate arteries, counter the buildup of plaque and reduce inflammation. Darlene Zimmerman, Detroit Free Press, "Strawberries with Yogurt Cream is packed with vitamin C and fiber," 12 Feb. 2021 The heart beats faster and breathing quickens; blood vessels dilate, so more oxygen reaches the brain and muscles. Akilah Johnson, ProPublica, "How COVID-19 Hollowed Out a Generation of Young Black Men," 22 Dec. 2020 During pregnancy, as the body prepares to give birth, the cervix begins to dilate or open from the pressure. Amirah Vann, Glamour, "In a Year of Uncertainty, Amirah Vann Confirms Her First Pregnancy—And the Blessing of New Life," 10 Dec. 2020 The pupils dilate, and there’s a change in the position of the lens in the eye. Jessica Wapner, Scientific American, "Vision and Breathing May Be the Secrets to Surviving 2020," 16 Nov. 2020 Your pupils probably dilate from 2.5mm in bright light to 5mm or 6mm at dusk, to perhaps 7mm in the dark. Ron Spomer, Outdoor Life, "How to Buy Your First Nice Hunting Rifle," 2 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dilate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of dilate

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2

History and Etymology for dilate

Middle English, from Middle French dilater, from Latin dilatare, literally, to spread wide, from dis- + latus wide — more at latitude

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about dilate

Time Traveler for dilate

Time Traveler

The first known use of dilate was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for dilate

Last Updated

18 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dilate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dilate. Accessed 11 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for dilate



English Language Learners Definition of dilate

: to become larger or wider


di·​late | \ dī-ˈlāt How to pronounce dilate (audio) \
dilated; dilating

Kids Definition of dilate

: to make or grow larger or wider Her pupils dilated in the dark.


di·​late | \ dī-ˈlāt How to pronounce dilate (audio) , ˈdī-ˌ How to pronounce dilate (audio) \
dilated; dilating

Medical Definition of dilate

transitive verb

: to enlarge, stretch, or cause to expand dilate his pupils with atropine the drug dilates peripheral arteries

intransitive verb

: to become expanded or swollen the cervix was dilating the pupils dilated

Comments on dilate

What made you want to look up dilate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!