1

span

play
\ ˈspan \

Definition of span

  • archaic past of spin

2

span

noun

Definition of span

1 :the distance from the end of the thumb to the end of the little finger of a spread hand; also :an English unit of length equal to nine inches (22.9 centimeters)
2 :an extent, stretch, reach, or spread between two limits: such as
a :a limited space (as of time); especially :an individual's lifetime
b :the spread or extent between abutments or supports (as of a bridge); also :a portion thus supported
c :the maximum distance laterally from tip to tip of an airplane

Origin and Etymology of span

Middle English, from Old English spann; akin to Old High German spanna span, Middle Dutch spannen to stretch, hitch up

Other Architecture Terms


3

span

verb

Definition of span

spanned; spanning
transitive verb
1 a :to measure by or as if by the hand with fingers and thumb extended
b :measure
2 a :to extend across
  • a career that spanned four decades
b :to form an arch over
  • a small bridge spanned the pond
c :to place or construct a span over
3 :to be capable of expressing any element of under given operations
  • a set of vectors that spans a vector space

Examples of span in a Sentence

  1. His career as a singer spanned three decades.

  2. Their empire once spanned several continents.

  3. Her academic interests span a wide variety of topics.

  4. A bridge spans the river.

First Known Use of span

1560


4

span

noun

Definition of span

:a pair of animals (such as mules) usually matched in appearance and action and driven together

Origin and Etymology of span

Dutch, from Middle Dutch, from spannen to hitch up



SPAN Defined for English Language Learners

span

verb

Definition of span for English Language Learners

  • : to continue throughout (a period of time)

  • : to cover or include (a wide area, a large number of things, etc.)

  • : to cross over (something)


SPAN Defined for Kids

1

span

play
noun \ ˈspan \

Definition of span for Students

1 :a limited portion of time
  • span of life
  • I learned to ski in the span of one hour.
2 :the spread (as of an arch or bridge) from one support to another
3 :the width of something from one side to another

2

span

verb

Definition of span for Students

spanned; spanning
1 :to reach or extend across
  • A bridge spans the river.
2 :to continue over a period of time
  • The actor's career spanned five decades.

Medical Dictionary

span

play
noun \ ˈspan \

medical Definition of span

1 :an extent of distance or of time; especially :life span


Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

a ram's-horn trumpet used in Judaism

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Merriam-Webster's New Words Quiz—Fall 2017 Edition!

  • young-plant-shoots
  • Which of the following is a new sense of the word bunny?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!