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 But hospital representatives raised concerns that the measure could heighten the risk of the virus spreading among vulnerable populations. Ben Nadler, ajc, "Georgia bill would require nursing homes to allow visitors," 13 Feb. 2021 Thawing permafrost can heighten those risks, Shugar added. Chelsea Harvey, Scientific American, "Deadly Himalayan Flood Shows Perils of Mountain Warming," 10 Feb. 2021 Climate change is predicted to increase the frequency and intensity of droughts as well as heighten the risk of bushfires, like the ones that scorched Australia in 2019 and the beginning of 2020. Animals, "Platypuses are increasingly threatened, scientists say," 30 Dec. 2020 The legislation requires the State Department to establish a U.S. consulate in Tibet, a move that could heighten tensions with China. Jennifer Haberkorn, Los Angeles Times, "Congress approves new stimulus plan that includes checks for many Americans," 21 Dec. 2020 There are also concerns that an Israeli push to promote tourism to Al-Aqsa could heighten tensions. Areej Hazboun And Joseph Krauss, USA TODAY, "Palestinians torn as Israel seeks Gulf tourists in Jerusalem after COVID-19 drained travel hub," 16 Nov. 2020 The police order could further heighten tensions in Africa's most populous country after some of its worst turmoil in years. Lekan Oyekanmi, Star Tribune, "Nigeria's police order massive mobilization after unrest," 24 Oct. 2020 That served to alienate and antagonize nearly half the country and heighten the tribal instincts that are poisoning American politics. Karl Rove, WSJ, "Biden Needs a Conciliatory Tone," 16 Dec. 2020 The recent chill in U.S.-Sino relations and the move toward decoupling their economies heighten the risk of war breaking out on the high seas, the author points out. David Holahan, USA TODAY, "'The New Map': Daniel Yergin's sobering and smart take on the global state of energy," 14 Sep. 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

22 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Heighten.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heighten. Accessed 25 Feb. 2021.

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More Definitions for heighten



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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