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 Being a mother is already riddled with anxiety, fear, and self-doubt, and COVID-19 only heightened all those feelings. Sophie Hayssen, refinery29.com, "These Mothers Are Fighting Coronavirus On The Frontlines — & It’s Affecting Them In Unexpected Ways," 8 May 2020 An unanticipated problem was encountered, check back soon and try again As the coronavirus crisis heightens, Kristin Cavallari has returned home from a trip abroad with her family. Aurelie Corinthios, PEOPLE.com, "Kristin Cavallari Returns Home After Coronavirus 'Isolation' in the Bahamas for 3 Weeks," 7 Apr. 2020 These findings heighten the dangers for those caring for COVID-19 patients. USA Today, "Coronavirus might spread much farther than 6 feet in the air. CDC says wear a mask in public.," 3 Apr. 2020 The extended closure of schools heightens the issue of providing access to breakfast and lunch for kids who relied on those meals being provided during regular, on-campus school days. Sorell Grow, Indianapolis Star, "Where kids from Central Indiana school districts can get meals for the rest of the year," 2 Apr. 2020 This heightened immune response doesn’t happen in all patients with severe infections, obviously, but experts don’t know what makes some people more susceptible than others. Sarah Bradley, Health.com, "What Is a Cytokine Storm? Doctors Explain How Some COVID-19 Patients' Immune Systems Turn Deadly," 1 May 2020 And Choo’s worry is only heightened by the mass shortage of appropriate personal protective equipment. Claudia Harmata, PEOPLE.com, "Doctors and Nurses Are Having 'Hard Discussions with Their Families' About Worst-Case Scenarios During Pandemic," 1 Apr. 2020 The mystery was heightened even more by his absence from the rescue mission. Will Thorne, chicagotribune.com, "‘The Mandalorian’: 5 burning questions from episode 3," 21 Nov. 2019 The episode was the latest in a series of flare-ups on college campuses across the country, where shifting sensibilities and heightened criticism of the media have made the environment thornier for student journalists. New York Times, "News or ‘Trauma Porn’? Student Journalists Face Blowback on Campus," 13 Nov. 2019

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

20 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Heighten.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heighten. Accessed 25 May. 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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