\ˈspȯn, ˈspän\
spawned; spawning; spawns

Definition of spawn 

(Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to deposit or fertilize spawn

2 : to produce young especially in large numbers

transitive verb

1a : to produce or deposit (eggs) used of an aquatic animal

b : to induce (fish) to spawn

c : to plant with mushroom spawn

2 : bring forth, generate the idea spawned controversy



Definition of spawn (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the eggs of aquatic animals (such as fishes or oysters) that lay many small eggs

2 : product, offspring also : offspring in great numbers

3 : the seed, germ, or source of something

4 : mycelium especially prepared (as in bricks) for propagating mushrooms

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Other Words from spawn


spawner noun

Examples of spawn in a Sentence


The health-food craze spawned a multimillion-dollar industry. the incident that spawned a generation of student protests a TV show that spawned a host of imitations


Pacific salmon return to Alaskan streams to deposit their spawn. sometimes I think those little brats are the spawn of Satan himself
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Shrinking land and increasing values are spawning new approaches to warehouse development. Fortune, "This Is London's Hottest Property — Thanks to Amazon," 13 July 2018 Thank you @TelevisionAcad for recognizing our Late Night show and the spin off shows it’s spawned. Thr Staff, The Hollywood Reporter, "Emmys: Late-Night Hosts Celebrate and Poke Fun at Nominations," 12 July 2018 Combining elements of world music with electronic sounds and beats, the London collective hit upon a distinctive, life-affirming sound that brought significant European success and spawned a host of imitators. Brian Mccollum, Detroit Free Press, "Transglobal Underground's electro-worldbeat to brighten Concert of Colors," 12 July 2018 This is hardly the first time a song has spawned a viral dance challenge. Heran Mamo, Billboard, "Drake's 'In My Feelings' Challenge Has Spawned More Than 2.3 Million Tweets," 12 July 2018 The golden undies not only brought us laughs but spawned a new nickname: Captain Underpants. Becca Kufrin,, "Bachelorette Becca Kufrin on That 'Embarrassing' Group Date — and Falling for One 'Standup Man'," 9 July 2018 Southern California fires began erupting Friday as strong high pressure over the West spawned an epic heat wave that saw parts of Los Angeles broil in temperatures up to 117 degrees (47.2 Celsius). Washington Post, "Wildfires rage through California amid heat rage," 8 July 2018 The practice has netted millions of dollars over the years and spawned a mini literary genre that regularly fills up reporters’ in boxes: the news release touting a monetary recovery from another shady, discredited company’s business practice. Greg Moran,, "Appeals court ruling could affect DA-driven consumer lawsuits," 6 July 2018 Over the past few years, alarming deaths of black people at the hands of the police spawned a boisterous national movement — Black Lives Matter — demanding systemic change. John Eligon, New York Times, "After His Brother Commits Murder, a Journalist Revisits Their Childhood," 6 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Wine-cap mushrooms, grown with spawn tossed in layers of woody mulch under trees or in garden beds, can emerge in just a few months. Anne Marie Chaker, WSJ, "Don’t Forget to Water the Logs: Mushrooms Are in for Home Gardens," 11 June 2018 Last spring, Al Gracian planted wine cap mushroom spawn beneath five beds of bushes, herbs and asparagus at his home in Pittsburgh. Anne Marie Chaker, WSJ, "Don’t Forget to Water the Logs: Mushrooms Are in for Home Gardens," 11 June 2018 Bait fishermen are casting spawn sacks, minnows, small lead-head jigs tipped with maggots or waxworms and small plastic lures., "D'Arcy Egan fishing report for May 3: Walleye biting, steelhead hanging around," 3 May 2018 Crappie – fair, spawn is over and the fish are hanging out around the deeper brush piles and Georgia cubes. Tyler Mahoney Special To The Star, kansascity, "Fishing report: Catfish action picking up in Kansas, Missouri lakes," 11 July 2018 Let’s be clear: Voice mail is the evil spawn of the phone call. David Pierce, WSJ, "Phone Calls Are Dead. Voice Chat Is the Future.," 8 July 2018 The smallies are in the pre-spawn mode and aggressive. sacbee, "Fishing line: Sacramento River sees plenty of stripers and shad | The Sacramento Bee," 30 Apr. 2018 At Lewis Smith, the striper spawn is ending, and the fish are moving back out of the creeks and rivers toward the main lake--a return to standard tactics of slow-trolling live shad at 40 feet and more is now the best bet. Frank Sargeant,, "Friday Fishing Report," 12 Apr. 2018 Back in 2004, during the last big spawn, the mussels filtered Cattail Creek every 48 hours, Spadaro said. Tim Prudente,, "Explosion of false dark mussels revives hopes for clearer waters and concern for dogs in Anne Arundel County," 11 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'spawn.' 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 spawn


15th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for spawn


Middle English, from Anglo-French espandre to spread out, shed, scatter, spawn, from Latin expandere to expand

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Learn More about spawn

Dictionary Entries near spawn






spawning ground


Phrases Related to spawn

spawning ground

Statistics for spawn

Last Updated

14 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for spawn

The first known use of spawn was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for spawn



English Language Learners Definition of spawn

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to produce or lay eggs in water

: to cause (something) to develop or begin : to produce or create (something)



English Language Learners Definition of spawn (Entry 2 of 2)

: the eggs of a fish or frog


\ˈspȯn \
spawned; spawning

Kids Definition of spawn

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to produce or deposit a large number of eggs Salmon swim up rivers to spawn.



Kids Definition of spawn (Entry 2 of 2)

: the many small eggs of an animal (as a fish or frog) that are deposited in water

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More from Merriam-Webster on spawn

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for spawn

Spanish Central: Translation of spawn

Nglish: Translation of spawn for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of spawn for Arabic Speakers

Comments on spawn

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


evasion of direct action or statement

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