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 Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o’s narration anthropomorphizes the animals to heighten the emotion. Melinda Newman, Billboard, "Scoring 'Serengeti': Goldfrapp's Will Gregory on Writing for Baboons, Hyenas and Lions," 16 Aug. 2019 The song made its premiere during one of the episode’s most heightened emotional moments. Bianca Betancourt, Teen Vogue, ""Euphoria" Finale Premieres New Zendaya Song "All For Us"," 5 Aug. 2019 According to Local First Arizona, a nonprofit that works to heighten awareness of supporting local businesses, for every $100 spent at a local business, $43 stays in the local economy versus only $13 at a non-local business. Tirion Morris, azcentral, "Local restaurants struggle in the summer. Here's how they cope and what you can do to help," 4 Aug. 2019 The controversy involving Mayfield and Jackson heightened following the season's first meeting between the teams, when Jackson appeared to go in for a post-game embrace and Mayfield opted for a handshake. Dave Clark, Cincinnati.com, "Hue Jackson: Time with Cleveland Browns 'was probably some of the best coaching I did'," 12 July 2019 As the stakes have heightened for Orlando City, the captain’s quality of play has risen with them. Julia Poe, Pro Soccer USA, "Nani praises growth of Orlando City as the captain flourishes in final stretch of season," 17 Sep. 2019 Crude oil prices spiked by almost 15 percent worldwide for the biggest jump in years Monday morning after Saudi Arabia's oil supplies were attacked Saturday amid heightening geopolitical tensions with Iran. Jordan Blum, Houston Chronicle, "Oil spikes nearly 15% on Saudi attack, heightened tensions with Iran," 16 Sep. 2019 For Nike, the relationship resulted in tens of millions of dollars of free advertising and heightened credibility with the young, diverse consumers who look up to the player. Kevin Draper, New York Times, "Colin Kaepernick ‘Dream Crazy’ Ad Wins Nike an Emmy," 16 Sep. 2019 The Houthis launched drone attacks targeting Saudi Arabia’s crucial East-West Pipeline in May as tensions heightened between Iran and the U.S. BostonGlobe.com, "DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Drones claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels attacked the world’s largest oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia and a major oilfield operated by Saudi Aramco early Saturday, sparking a huge fire at a processor crucial to global energy supplies.," 15 Sep. 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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Statistics for heighten

Last Updated

5 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for heighten

The first known use of heighten was in 1523

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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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Comments on heighten

What made you want to look up heighten? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a calculated move

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