\ 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 past 10-year boom has spawned the era of Big Tech, in which a handful of mega-companies are raking in never-seen-before revenues and expanding at record rates. Mercury News Editorial Board, The Mercury News, "Editorial: Keep Google’s downtown San Jose project moving forward," 25 Aug. 2019 These political relationships were spawned 135 years earlier. National Geographic, "400 years ago, enslaved Africans first arrived in Virginia," 13 Aug. 2019 The queen might be dead, but all the other enemies that were spawned for the event are still out for blood. Patricia Hernandez, The Verge, "Fallout 76’s first end-game nuke launches, starts apocalyptic battle," 15 Nov. 2018 Hurricanes are spawned east of the international dateline, while typhoons develop west of it. Audrey Mcavoy, The Seattle Times, "US sends aid to Pacific islands devastated by huge typhoon," 26 Oct. 2018 When a xeno is spawned, it is attached to a zone tether. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "A years-old, one-letter typo led to Aliens: Colonial Marines’ weird AI," 14 July 2018 Silver Trident was spawned from the mind of its co-founder, Bob Binder, who also founded the luxury cruise line Oceania Cruises. Urmila Ramakrishnan, San Francisco Chronicle, "New wineries, tasting rooms open in Napa Valley," 22 Feb. 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Surrounding nests with gravel and rocks may create a barrier against predators—like fish and shrimp, which feed on frog eggs and larvae—while also preventing fluctuating water levels from washing the spawn away. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "How Did the World’s Largest Frog Get So Big? Possibly by Building Its Own Ponds," 12 Aug. 2019 And no, the new iteration won’t follow Blair and Chuck’s hypothetical spawn in high school. Michele Corriston,, "Gossip Girl Creator Says Reboot Won’t Follow Kids of Original Characters: ‘We Ain’t That Old!’," 26 July 2019 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

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

2 Sep 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).


readily or continually undergoing change

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