\ ˈspȯn How to pronounce spawn (audio) , 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

The mech’s ability to jump hundreds of yards, paired with its hefty armor, have drawn the ire of players for being overpowered, spawning the #RemoveTheMech hashtag which quickly began trending in the United States. Jason Fanelli, The Hollywood Reporter, "E-sports Organizers Ban Competitor Following Sexual Misconduct Allegations," 14 Aug. 2019 They’ve been systematically deprived of their livelihood by the elements and political choices, including decisions aimed at watering the Central Valley instead of coastal waterways where salmon spawn. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Right-wingers again demonize the tiny delta smelt to protect Big Agriculture," 12 Aug. 2019 Weiss said the center is going to continue its research efforts and advocating for funding for habitat repair in salmon spawning areas. Alisha Ebrahimji, CNN, "3 orcas from an extremely endangered group are presumed dead, leaving only 73," 7 Aug. 2019 Moore never set out to be a bug-biting pioneer, but a Thanksgiving prank on her family spawned a fascination with the wild and delicious world of entomophagy: the practice of eating insects. Julia Sclafani, Daily Pilot, "Cricket chips? Ant caviar? O.C. Fair showcases the latest sustainable healthy food trend: Bugs," 31 July 2019 The bodies of the animals became a laboratory, attracting scavengers from around the region that left in their feces an unusual concentration of plant seeds from the area, potentially spawning new plant diversity, Norwegian scientists said. Palko Karasz, New York Times, "200 Reindeer Starved to Death. Experts Call It a Sign of Climate Change.," 31 July 2019 Furthermore, warming oceans due to climate change have shifted fish spawning locations farther from the colonies, adding an extra challenge for penguins searching for food. Jenny Howard, National Geographic, "Go inside a penguin rescue center with new 360 video," 29 July 2019 The fan's questions made people familiar with darkrooms feel really old, spawning a bunch of hilarious comments. Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, ""Stranger Things" Fans Really Want to Know Why Jonathan Byers is Always in a "Red Room"," 29 July 2019 After unsuccessfully trying to manage the goldfish with nets and electrofishing, biologists were increasingly concerned after watching spawning behavior this spring. Jeff Parrott, Anchorage Daily News, "Wildlife officials will use fish-killing chemical to get rid of Cuddy Park goldfish," 24 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Mad was the smart-aleck spawn of the age of mass media, when everyone watched the same networks, flocked to the same movies and saluted the same flag. David Von Drehle, The Denver Post, "Guest Commentary: Mad magazine is dying — maybe we should worry," 7 July 2019 But each time a real celebrity or Instagram influencer type posts a pool selfie with a drink floatie, 100 more spawn and pop up in every above-ground pool from here to Corpus Christi. Alex Beggs, Bon Appétit, "Summer’s Hottest Accessory Is... an Inflatable Drink Holder?," 24 June 2019 Gerry says most fish are shallow, in pre- spawn, spawning and post- spawning modes--the grassy bays are the places to fish at present, both up lake and down; Frank Sargeant,, "Friday Fishing Report," 27 Apr. 2018 On inland waters, bass fishermen are reporting excellent catches of post-spawn largemouth bass. D'arcy Egan,, "Lake Erie walleye fishing still rockin’ from Toledo to Conneaut: June 28 Fishing Report," 28 June 2019 However, after salmon spawn, weaken and die, bears return in high numbers in September. Dan Joling, Anchorage Daily News, "New bridge in Katmai National Park aimed at limiting bear encounters," 16 June 2019 Dustin joins forces with reformed high school jock Steve Harrington (Joe Keery), Steve's co-worker at Scoops Ahoy ice cream parlor, Robin (Maya Hawke, spawn of Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke), and Lucas' precocious little sister Erica (Priah Ferguson). Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Flay your mind: Stranger Things S3 just might be the show’s best season yet," 15 July 2019 And the full moon just past inspired a major spawn in many lakes and rivers around the state, with channel cats, blues and flatheads all moving to shallow water cover to nest. Frank Sargeant,, "Calling all anglers: It’s catfish time in Alabama," 23 June 2019 The Democrats, literal spawns of Satan, want to enslave you and force you to work on their marijuana farms wearing only leather chaps. Rex Huppke,, "Column: Trump thinks ‘radical’ Democrats want to destroy our country. That’s so 2017!," 19 June 2019

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


Statistics for spawn

Last Updated

19 Aug 2019

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 How to pronounce spawn (audio) \
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).


not constant or steady

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