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
However, the highlight is the food and beverage program, led by not one but three award-winning chefs, spanning Latin, Israeli, and Hawaiian cuisines, a first for any Centurion Lounge. Dobrina Zhekova, Travel + Leisure, 17 July 2024 The yard says the spacious living quarters are on par with yachts spanning 118 to 125 feet. Rachel Cormack, Robb Report, 17 July 2024 Here, a look at some of our favorites history podcasts in every category, spanning the worlds of politics, art, fashion, entertainment, and beyond. Radhika Seth, Vogue, 16 July 2024 Reliance, the family conglomerate that has holdings spanning oil, telecommunications, media and retail, has framed the sprawling affair as a celebration of India’s success. Anant Gupta, Washington Post, 16 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for span 

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 24 Jul. 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

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