height·​en | \ ˈhī-tᵊn How to pronounce heighten (audio) \
heightened; heightening\ ˈhīt-​niŋ How to pronounce heightening (audio) , 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 Journalists across the country have experienced being caught in the crossfire of violent clashes with police and protesters heightened by the intensity of protests over the weekend. Mica Soellner, Washington Examiner, "Minnesota governor apologizes to journalists detained or struck by rubber bullets during protests," 31 May 2020 The wave of online criticism and harassment was heightened after an episode that aired on March 31, showing an argument between Kimura and another cast member. Jessie Yeung, CNN, "Japan to discuss cyberbullying laws after death of wrestler and 'Terrace House' star," 26 May 2020 This transmission risk is heightened by the fact that many individuals work in more than one facility. Donald H. Taylor, STAT, "To test our way out of the Covid-19 nightmare, focus on nursing homes," 22 May 2020 The spark of emotion is heightened by a live crowd of observers looking on from inside the studio. Kelly Gilblom, Fortune, "Talk shows have been able to continue during the pandemic—but it’s been a tough year," 20 May 2020 The spark of emotion is heightened by a live crowd of observers looking on from inside the studio. Kelly Gilblom, Bloomberg.com, "Talk TV’s Weird and Difficult Year During the Lockdown," 20 May 2020 The danger is heightened as the glacier recedes below. Morgan Krakow, Anchorage Daily News, "Scientists warn about risk of massive tsunami in Prince William Sound, potentially within the next year," 15 May 2020 The Fisher family’s awareness of its surroundings is heightened in times like these because of Ethan’s ongoing fight against the disease. Brent Zwerneman, ExpressNews.com, "A&M’s Jimbo Fisher adapting to new realities forced by COVID-19," 31 Mar. 2020 Majeed's misgivings about being asked to spy on his own community are heightened when his devout father begins frequenting the mosque, bringing both his son and granddaughter back into the fold after years of relatively secular detachment. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'I'll Meet You There': Film Review | SXSW 2020," 20 Mar. 2020

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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Time Traveler for heighten

Time Traveler

The first known use of heighten was in 1523

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Statistics for heighten

Last Updated

3 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Heighten.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heighten. Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for heighten


How to pronounce heighten (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of heighten

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


height·​en | \ ˈhī-tᵊn How to pronounce heighten (audio) \
heightened; heightening

Kids Definition of heighten

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

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