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

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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 The group ran a grant program to help local election offices respond to the pandemic, including by buying medical protective gear and purchasing supplies and equipment to expand vote-by-mail. Alexa Corse, WSJ, 19 Sep. 2022 Looking ahead, Griswold said the museum wants to expand educational opportunities for minorities to launch careers in art history and museums by offering scholarships, internships, and other programs. Steven Litt, cleveland, 19 Sep. 2022 These same individuals have shown us, time and time again, that there’s no expense too great, including the lives of poor and working-class people, to expand the military and prison-industrial complex further. Cheri Lucas Rowlands, Longreads, 17 Sep. 2022 This Murphy bed frame draws the eyes up to visually expand the room. Mary Cornetta, Better Homes & Gardens, 15 Sep. 2022 Florida, Idaho, Indiana, West Virginia, and other conservative states have also worked to expand programs to help support private and religious schools with state funding. Harry Bruinius, The Christian Science Monitor, 15 Sep. 2022 Those could be joined to new projects to expand opportunities for careers in the arts and culture—fields where, right now, Nigerians find their best opportunities by emigrating. David Frum, The Atlantic, 14 Sep. 2022 My head is buzzing with new pattern designs and collaborations with other creatives to expand the collection through additional products. House Beautiful, 13 Sep. 2022 Since then, the Larry H. Miller Company reportedly sold 10% of its remaining ownership interest in the Jazz to private equity firm Arctos Sports Partners, which is partnering with SEG to expand Utah’s sports offerings. Julie Jag, The Salt Lake Tribune, 13 Sep. 2022 See More

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

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 3 Oct. 2022.

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Kids Definition



ex·​pand ik-ˈspand How to pronounce expand (audio)
expanded; expanding
: to grow or increase in size, number, or amount
The airport is expanding.
: to open wide : unfold
The eagle's wings expanded.
: to take up or cause to take up more space
Metals expand under heat.
: to speak or write about in greater detail
Would you expand on that idea?

More from Merriam-Webster on expand

Last Updated: 22 Sep 2022

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