span

1 of 4

archaic past tense of spin

span

2 of 4

noun (1)

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

span

3 of 4

verb

spanned; spanning

transitive verb

1
a
: to measure by or as if by the hand with fingers and thumb extended
b
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

span

4 of 4

noun

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

Examples of span in a Sentence

Verb His career as a singer spanned three decades. Their empire once spanned several continents. Her academic interests span a wide variety of topics. A bridge spans the river.
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
The series is expected to span seven seasons, adapting each book in J.K. Rowling’s best-selling fantasy book series. Todd Spangler, Variety, 23 Feb. 2024 Subscribe Across the planet, our 42 licensed editions span six continents, 68 countries and 30 languages. Katherine Love, Forbes, 23 Feb. 2024 From our first release ‘One Step Closer’ to the brand-new ‘Friendly Fire,’ this tracklist spans all our chapters so far. Emily Zemler, Rolling Stone, 23 Feb. 2024 In China, Lunar New Year spans from the first new moon to the next full moon, or the fifth day of the lunar month, Zhang previously told USA TODAY. Olivia Munson, The Courier-Journal, 23 Feb. 2024 Planned since 1997 and dedicated in 2012, Smale spans 45 acres along downtown’s Mehring Way, the Bengals’ Paycor Stadium at its west end, the Reds’ Great American Ball Park at its east border. The Enquirer, 23 Feb. 2024 With a nod from Guzman, Miami Springs built 8-foot fences spanning five blocks to prevent pedestrians and vehicles from entering the city’s east side from Northwest 36th Street due to drug dealing, shootings, homelessness, and prostitution. Theo Karantsalis, Miami Herald, 22 Feb. 2024 The investigation into Hunter Biden, led by Weiss, spanned nearly six years, beginning during the Trump administration and carrying over into the Biden administration. Erica Brown, CBS News, 21 Feb. 2024 Amateur radio operators, who are licensed by the federal government in the U.S. and elsewhere, span the globe and use shortwave radio bands to broadcast messages and talk to each other. Jacqueline Pinedo, Sacramento Bee, 11 Feb. 2024
Noun
In 20 games since Jan. 1 entering Thursday, Tkachuk has posted a league-leading 38 points, while his 23 assists are tied for second and 15 goals fourth in that span. Jordan McPherson, Miami Herald, 23 Feb. 2024 Four were killed in the span of a few hours in southeast L.A. County, including 14-year-old Javier Pedraza Jr. who was shot and killed outside his elementary school in Cudahy in the early hours of Feb. 12. Nathan Solis, Los Angeles Times, 23 Feb. 2024 The team went winless through 10 matches and scored just three in that span, creating a massive hole for the rest of Sporting’s 2023 campaign. Daniel Sperry, Kansas City Star, 21 Feb. 2024 The commuter rail service gradually expanded the schedule and span of its network over the years. Jaime Moore-Carrillo, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 21 Feb. 2024 So, Salerno made three pairs of Adidas Sambas – one for himself, one for the contact, and one for Messi over a span of two weeks. Safid Deen, USA TODAY, 20 Feb. 2024 His coverage abilities were met by double-teams and triple-teams over that span. Oliver Thomas, Forbes, 20 Feb. 2024 These remains span approximately 7,300 years, from the Mesolithic period, when hunter-gatherer lifestyles were warning, to the Neolithic period, when humans began settling and farming was ascendant, to the Early Bronze Age. Bradford Betz, Fox News, 19 Feb. 2024 The Heat’s defense has returned to form, allowing just 103.9 points per 100 possessions in the last five games for the NBA’s second-best defensive rating during this span. Anthony Chiang, Miami Herald, 10 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'span.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun (1)

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

Noun

Dutch, from Middle Dutch, from spannen to hitch up

First Known Use

Noun (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1560, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

1769, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of span was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near span

Cite this Entry

“Span.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/span. Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

span

1 of 3 noun
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 9 inches (about 22.9 centimeters)
2
a
: a limited portion of time
span of life
b
: the spread (as of an arch) from one support to another
c
: the portion supported to form a span

span

2 of 3 verb
spanned; spanning
1
a
: to measure by or as if by the hand with fingers and thumb extended
2
a
: to reach or extend across
a bridge spans the river
a career that spans four decades
b
: to place or construct a span over

span

3 of 3 noun
: a pair of animals (as mules) driven together
Etymology

Noun

Old English spann "distance measured by the outstretched hand"

Noun

from Dutch span "a pair of animals driven together," derived from earlier spannen "to hitch up"

Medical Definition

span

noun
1
: an extent of distance or of time
especially : life span
2

More from Merriam-Webster on span

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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