ex·​pand ik-ˈspand How to pronounce expand (audio)
expanded; expanding; expands

transitive verb

: to open up : unfold
: to increase the extent, number, volume, or scope of : enlarge
: to express at length or in greater detail
: to write out in full
expand all abbreviations
: to subject to mathematical expansion
expand a function in a power series

intransitive verb

: to open out : spread
: to increase in extent, number, volume, or scope
: to speak or write fully or in detail
expanded on the theme
: to feel generous or optimistic
expandability noun
expandable adjective
Choose the Right Synonym for expand

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 expand in a Sentence

The liquid expands and contracts with changes in temperature. His business has expanded to serve the entire state. The coffee shop may expand into a full restaurant. He has expanded his business to serve the entire state. There are plans to expand the airport. The police have decided to expand their investigation. She plans to expand the lecture series into a book. Expand the abbreviation “deg.” to “degree.”
Recent Examples on the Web In 1984, inspired by Fantasia Fair, a transgender gathering first held nine years earlier, a group of women innkeepers dreamed up Women’s Weekend (now Women’s Week), in an effort to attract more lesbian visitors and to expand the summer season into October. June Thomas, TIME, 31 May 2024 The project hopes to eventually expand jaguars back to their native range, including up into the continental U.S. in Arizona and New Mexico, according to the post. Irene Wright, Miami Herald, 31 May 2024 The menu, along with the business, has expanded over the years. Kate Marijolovic, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 30 May 2024 The government has drafted laws that would expand its regulatory power, and if Mr. Modi wins a third term in office in India’s national election, which concludes next week, observers say his administration is likely to impose further restrictions on the media. Omkar Poojari, The Christian Science Monitor, 30 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for expand 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'expand.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English expaunden, from Latin expandere, from ex- + pandere to spread — more at fathom

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of expand was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near expand

Cite this Entry

“Expand.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/expand. Accessed 14 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


ex·​pand ik-ˈspand How to pronounce expand (audio)
: to open wide : unfold
a bird with wings expanded
: to increase in size, number, or amount
substances expand when heated
the expanding universe
their work expanded
: to work out in greater detail
expand an argument
: to perform the indicated mathematical operations of : write out in full
expand both sides of an equation
expandable adjective
expander noun

More from Merriam-Webster on expand

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