height·​en | \ ˈhī-tᵊn How to pronounce heighten (audio) \
heightened; heightening\ ˈhīt-​niŋ How to pronounce heighten (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 Pivoting to animation was a chance to expand the story’s settings, heighten some elements even further all while maintaining health and safety precautions. Danielle Turchiano, Variety, 27 Aug. 2021 To heighten the effect, members of the museum’s glassmaking team have created historically accurate glass versions of the colorful, eye-catching delicacies—syllabubs, custards, candies, ice creams—that would have filled the sparkling tableware. Susan Delson, WSJ, 23 Apr. 2021 But while those are the bare essentials, a few practical items will heighten your enjoyment. New York Times, 9 Apr. 2021 The clash over the protocol is likely to heighten in September. Laurence Norman, WSJ, 21 July 2021 Although the Pride’s defense made major strides from its 53-goal allowance in 2019, Riley said the team’s next step is to heighten its defensive pressure to in turn create more offensive opportunities. Julia Poe, orlandosentinel.com, 27 June 2021 Its findings are likely to heighten a national debate over the vast and widening inequality between the very wealthiest Americans and everyone else. Paul Sawyer, Arkansas Online, 9 June 2021 Preparations are underway to heighten clearances through the 1.7-mile tunnel and under three bridges in Baltimore, along with 19 others along the line to Philadelphia. Colin Campbell, baltimoresun.com, 28 Apr. 2021 During a manic episode, like in Washcovick’s case, people may feel euphoric or have racing thoughts, among other symptoms, both of which can affect sleep and further heighten their mania. As Told To Natasha Lavender, SELF, 17 June 2021

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

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The first known use of heighten was in 1523

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Last Updated

14 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Heighten.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heighten. Accessed 20 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for heighten



English Language Learners Definition of heighten

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


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on heighten

Nglish: Translation of heighten for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of heighten for Arabic Speakers


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