height·​en | \ˈhī-tᵊn \
heightened; heightening\ ˈhīt-​niŋ , ˈhī-​tᵊn-​iŋ \

Definition of heighten 

transitive verb

1a : to increase the amount or degree of : augment

b : to make brighter or more intense : deepen

c : to bring out more strongly : point up

d : to make more acute : sharpen

2a : to raise high or higher : elevate

b : to raise above the ordinary or trite

3 obsolete : elate

intransitive verb

1 archaic : grow, rise

2a : to become great or greater in amount, degree, or extent

b : to become brighter or more intense

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Examples of heighten in a Sentence

The plan will only heighten tensions between the two groups. This tragedy has heightened our awareness of the need for improved safety measures. Tensions between the two groups have heightened.
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Recent Examples on the Web

And in this case the effect is only heightened by the rough, untreated texture of the metal file that this knife used to be. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "Watch a Metal File Transformed Into a Handsome Japanese Knife," 2 June 2016 High fire danger and the threat of the County Fire has prompted UC Davis officials to close one of its nature reserves and put two others on heightened alert, according to a UC Davis report. Adesuwa Agbonile, sacbee, "Fire dangers keeping UC Davis reserves in western Yolo County on high alert," 3 July 2018 In the World Series, the Yankees hosted the Arizona Diamondbacks among heightened security for Games 3, 4, 5 at Yankee Stadium, just 14 miles from ground zero. Melissa Murphy, chicagotribune.com, "Museum exhibit highlights impact of sports after 9/11," 28 June 2018 Schools across Houston were already on heightened alert Monday morning as students returned to classes for the first time since the Santa Fe High School shooting left the rural suburban community reeling on Friday. Jacob Carpenter, Houston Chronicle, "On heightened alert after Santa Fe, districts report gun incidents at three schools," 21 May 2018 The rest of the trailer was laughably over-serious, in that heightened telenovela way. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "NBCUniversal's New Show Trailers: A Critic's Ranking," 14 May 2018 Several local school districts were on heightened alert Monday after a nationwide threat hoax was made against schools in at least 46 states. Karen Kucher, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Local school districts swept up in nationwide threat hoax," 9 Apr. 2018 Friday’s attacks heightened security concerns for the already fraught national elections. Zaheer Babar, BostonGlobe.com, "132 people die in election violence ahead of Sharif’s return," 13 July 2018 Her decision heightened concerns about the loss of Garden City's affordable housing. Sven Berg, idahostatesman, "She spent her teens in a Garden City trailer. Now she tears trailers down to build anew. | Idaho Statesman," 14 May 2018

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

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First Known Use of heighten

1523, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

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Last Updated

5 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for heighten

The first known use of heighten was in 1523

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More Definitions for heighten



English Language Learners Definition of heighten

: to increase the amount, degree, or extent of (something)


height·​en | \ˈhī-tᵊn \
heightened; heightening

Kids Definition of heighten

: to make greater : increase The film heightened their interest in Alaska.

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Comments on heighten

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


something that serves to warn or remind

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