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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web Conversely, the consequences of a poor business culture are a narrow pipeline of top talent and a lack of compliance with company guidelines, laws and regulations and social norms, which heighten overall business risk. Sean Thompson, Forbes, 5 May 2022 His aural arrangements, which only heighten the fear and tension of some of the film’s most pivotal and gruesome scenes, are sublime, and the hopes are the music branch don’t suffer from short-term memory loss in the next seven months. Clayton Davis, Variety, 5 May 2022 Officials and experts fear that the rare convergence next month of Ramadan, Passover and Easter, which can easily heighten tensions, may fuel further violence. New York Times, 25 Mar. 2022 Current economic trends and international tensions heighten the need for domestic companies to maximize efficiency and productivity. Mark Brnovich, WSJ, 6 Mar. 2022 Higher gas prices typically accelerate inflation, which would heighten the need for rate increases. CBS News, 25 Feb. 2022 Curved door panels heighten the perception of spaciousness. Dave Vanderwerp, Car and Driver, 24 Mar. 2022 Scenes of ever more terrible violence are likely to heighten horror and anger throughout the West. Ned Temko, The Christian Science Monitor, 8 Mar. 2022 Compounding the concerns, some studies suggest that a coronavirus infection can heighten the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a disease that is largely preventable through a healthy diet and exercise. New York Times, 3 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of heighten

1523, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

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The first known use of heighten was in 1523

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Last Updated

17 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Heighten.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heighten. Accessed 22 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for heighten


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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