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

Example Sentences

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.” See More
Recent Examples on the Web Building up is especially handy on small lots where there isn't room to expand your home's physical footprint, like in metropolitan areas or congested suburbs. Kate Mcgregor, House Beautiful, 31 May 2023 Originally known as Decoration Day, the annual remembrance first focused on Civil War and Spanish-American War veterans before expanding to all veterans through the 20th century. Laura Blasey, Los Angeles Times, 30 May 2023 But [this] film is going to expand the universe musically, and connect it. Christopher Cruz, Rolling Stone, 30 May 2023 The law streamlines application process, expands Pell Grant eligibility The new formula is part of the FAFSA Simplification Act, which Congress approved in 2020. Hunter Turpin, Journal Sentinel, 30 May 2023 Over the past decade, Mr. Erdogan has deftly used crises to expand his authority. Ben Hubbard, New York Times, 28 May 2023 The split screen was a reminder that DeSantis is being pinched both ideologically and geographically, as the field expands. Shane Goldmacher, BostonGlobe.com, 28 May 2023 Both sides have suggested one of the main holdups was a GOP effort to expand work requirements for recipients of food stamps and other federal aid programs, a longtime Republican goal that Democrats have strenuously opposed. Lisa Mascaro, Fortune, 28 May 2023 Outside of children's fiction, Dylan also continues to expand her résumé with exciting projects. Adrianna Freedman, Good Housekeeping, 27 May 2023 See More

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 8 Jun. 2023.

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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