\ ˈsplā How to pronounce splay (audio) \
splayed; splaying; splays

Definition of splay

 (Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to cause to spread outward
2 : to make oblique : bevel

intransitive verb

1 : to extend apart or outward especially in an awkward manner
2 : slope, slant



Definition of splay (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : a slope or bevel especially of the sides of a door or window



Definition of splay (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : turned outward splay knees

Examples of splay in a Sentence

Verb He sat with his legs splayed apart. She splayed her fingers to show off her manicure. His fingers splayed out over the table as he steadied himself.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Click on Birmingham and there's a map of activities splayed across the city’s downtown for Dream Cruise 2020. Bill Laitner, Detroit Free Press, "Dream Cruise cities vote to cancel 2020 event because of coronavirus concerns," 20 May 2020 Think: women splayed out on the subway station benches in silk gowns and pearls or, for Lapierre’s latest collection, classic paintings of women by Vittorio Reggianini, each superimposed with surgical face masks. Eliza Huber, refinery29.com, "The Beautiful World Of Timothée Chalamet Instagram Art," 20 May 2020 And with ridership down 92 percent, images of them splayed across otherwise empty cars have become searing symbols of the city’s precarious condition. New York Times, "Watch Now: Cuomo Giving New York Virus Briefing," 2 May 2020 While its front legs go straight down, like most mammals, its back legs are splayed out to either side like a reptile. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "66-Million-Year-Old ‘Crazy Beast’ Finds a Taxonomical Home," 1 May 2020 When the single fastener that holds the split halves together is removed, those pieces splay apart like wings to allow the scope to be set in place. John B. Snow, Outdoor Life, "Unimounts are a Stronger Way to Attach a Scope to a Rifle," 19 Feb. 2020 Countless were the summer afternoons spent playing mermaid in the pool, holding my legs close together and splaying my feet wide to make a mermaid’s tail of my shadow, then bursting through the surface to whip the water from my hair. Barbara Vandenburgh, USA TODAY, "Being in quarantine might finally make me embrace my gray hair. Here's why," 1 May 2020 In fact, even the thought of leaving my bedroom with rumpled blankets splayed across the mattress and pillows askew makes my skin crawl. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "If You Weren't Already Making Your Bed Daily, You Really Should Be," 20 Apr. 2020 That changes the path of each ray, resulting in a colorful interference pattern splayed overhead. Washington Post, "Incredible moon halos, corona shine over Manitoba, Canada," 11 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Tall stalks of foam bend and splay to the human form, so object and sitter, together, make a unique, changing sculpture. Brian T. Allen, National Review, "Radical Italian Art Goes Over the Top, Dazzlingly, in Houston," 29 Feb. 2020 These are super lightweight and flexible kicks with a zero drop, designed to help improve natural running and walking form, and toe splay. NBC News, "The best sports shoes for running, walking and hiking," 11 Jan. 2019 In the trilogy, there is also a landscape crop of three very similar-looking male models, two of which are wearing what look like chainlink skirts, while a third splays on the floor of a gray set, donning a tailored coat of the same colour. Eliza Huber, refinery29.com, "Thanks To LOEWE, Megan Rapinoe’s Face Is All Over Paris," 16 Jan. 2020 Explanations for the whys and hows this happened splay every direction. Tom Noie, Indianapolis Star, "Trying times for Muffet McGraw, Notre Dame women's basketball program," 14 Jan. 2020 To crown it all: an erupting splay of salad greens, the most flamboyant staging of frisée and red oak lettuce in town. Los Angeles Times, "Review: At Bon Temps in Downtown L.A., the brilliant desserts are only the beginning," 29 Aug. 2019 Miss’s stakes splay open; Fair casts hers in rubber. BostonGlobe.com, "An artist’s love letter to feminist forebears," 17 July 2019 Rather than a single cavern with a rectangular opening flap on the top, this hauler unzips around the sides and splays open into two halves, each with a mesh zippered cover. Ariella Gintzler, Outside Online, "Testing Adventure-Ready Travel Bags from Eagle Creek," 10 May 2018 In a time of postmodern splay, Monk is here to stay. Giovanni Russonello, New York Times, "At 100, Thelonious Monk Gets a Hero’s Celebration," 30 Oct. 2017

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


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


circa 1508, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1548, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for splay


Middle English, short for displayen — more at display entry 1

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Time Traveler for splay

Time Traveler

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

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Cite this Entry

“Splay.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/splay. Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for splay



English Language Learners Definition of splay

: to move (things, especially your legs, fingers, etc.) out and apart from each other

More from Merriam-Webster on splay

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for splay

Nglish: Translation of splay for Spanish Speakers

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