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

Countries around the world are changing document requirements for entry because of heightened security and child-trafficking concerns. Scott Mccartney, WSJ, "Think You Need Only Your Passport to Travel? You’d Better Check," 27 Mar. 2019 Porsche also has heightened the technology quotient, adding various active dynamic systems. Car and Driver, "2019 10Best Cars," 28 Nov. 2018 Clemens hammered a solo home run over the right field fence and on his way around the bases decided to heighten the budding drama within this series. Nick Moyle, San Antonio Express-News, "Texas forces Game 3 with win over Tennessee Tech," 10 June 2018 In a decision expected to heighten the downtown experience in both Fishers and Noblesville, the federal Surface Transportation Board has given both cities the go-ahead to convert the Nickel Plate railroad to a greenway. John Tuohy, Indianapolis Star, "Feds give go-ahead to Nickel Plate greenway in Hamilton County," 1 June 2018 In what’s either a brilliant strategy to heighten the suspense or an annoying affectation — probably both — Brud only preaches grandiose ideas about fighting fake news with fake news, and using influencers to make the world a better place. Emilia Petrarca, The Cut, "Body Con Job," 11 May 2018 The district supports the federal government's efforts to heighten Shasta Dam, about 30 miles away. Ryan Sabalow And Dale Kasler, sacbee, "This one stretch of river could decide the future of Shasta Dam | The Sacramento Bee," 7 May 2018 That win stands only to heighten speculation as to whether Cranston — who won a Tony for his 2014 Broadway debut in All the Way — will return to the New York stage in this physically and emotionally demanding role. Alex Ritman, The Hollywood Reporter, "The Olivier Awards 2018: Full List of Winners," 8 Apr. 2018 When petitioner began to cry, the agent exchanged the handgun for a power drill that was revved to heighten the effect. Andrew Sullivan, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump Isn’t Merely Tolerating Torture — He’s Celebrating It," 6 Apr. 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

4 Jun 2019

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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 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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More from Merriam-Webster on heighten

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with heighten

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for heighten

Spanish Central: Translation of heighten

Nglish: Translation of heighten for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of heighten for Arabic Speakers

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