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

The appointees’ incendiary posts had long been a headache for HHS, which received heightened attention after a Politico report. Bradford Betz, Fox News, "HHS departures signal new secretary's 'no-nonsense' approach: report," 14 July 2018 Steinkamp’s radiant large-scale projections, which heighten and inflate natural imagery, question technology’s impact on perceptions of nature. BostonGlobe.com, "The week ahead: music, theater, art, and more," 13 July 2018 There’s no place for it, especially here in this state, where sensitivity should be heightened to this kind of thing. Breanna Edwards, The Root, "'We've Had Problems With Your Kind Before': Black Frat Files Racial-Discrimination Lawsuit Against Alabama Restaurant," 5 July 2018 But for visitors, arriving by Le Gois is a particularly thrilling way to access this seaside playground, only heightening the castaway feeling of the place. Mary Winston Nicklin, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Small Island Where the Tour de France Begins Is Actually a Vacationer's Paradise," 3 July 2018 Scorpion masquerades as self-examination, which only heightens its overwrought sentimentality: Side A grapples with ego, legacy, and fame, while Side B shifts to downtempo. Jason Parham, WIRED, "With Scorpion, #DrakeSZN Is Back—as Overwrought as Ever," 2 July 2018 Combined with the crackdown and heightened discrimination against LGBT people, the impending health crisis threatens to force the community into total retreat. Suyin Haynes, Time, "Indonesia's Crackdown on LGBT Rights is Fueling an HIV Epidemic, Rights Group Warns," 2 July 2018 The many reconfigurations have meant long hours and heightened stress for everyone from Musk on down. David Z. Morris, Fortune, "The Agility, Persistence, and Pain Behind Tesla’s Model 3 Manufacturing Turnaround," 1 July 2018 Instead, going overboard on caffeine in an attempt to sober up can actually lead to those previously mentioned ill effects, like shakiness, heightened anxiety, and a racing heartbeat. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "What Actually Happens When You Combine Alcohol and Caffeine?," 29 June 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

10 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for heighten

The first known use of heighten was in 1523

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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).


the setting in which something occurs

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