sprawl

verb
\ ˈsprȯl How to pronounce sprawl (audio) \
sprawled; sprawling; sprawls

Definition of sprawl

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to lie or sit with arms and legs spread out
2 : to spread or develop irregularly or without restraint bushes sprawling along the road sprawling suburbs a sprawling narrative
3a : to creep or clamber awkwardly
b archaic : to lie thrashing or tossing about

transitive verb

: to cause to spread out carelessly or awkwardly sprawled out her books on the table

sprawl

noun

Definition of sprawl (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an irregularly spread or scattered group or mass
3 : the act, posture, or condition of sprawling

Examples of sprawl in a Sentence

Verb The kids sprawled on the floor to watch TV. She tripped and went sprawling into the table. The city sprawls along the coastline. The bushes were sprawling along the road.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Kids can enjoy playing at the pirate ship playground and sprawl out on the green lawn. Sucheta Rawal, Travel + Leisure, 1 Jan. 2022 One of the demons that Rogers frequently fought was sprawl: never-ending suburbs that plowed freeways through the countryside, were disconnected from public transportation, and where public space was treated as an afterthought. Los Angeles Times, 21 Dec. 2021 Then there was Turner Field before the team uprooted from downtown and decided to sprawl into the suburbs. The Salt Lake Tribune, 2 Nov. 2021 Set in the Indian state of Goa, the milky-white waters of Dudhsagar Falls seem to sprawl against the area's lush, green hillside. Evie Carrick, Travel + Leisure, 31 Oct. 2021 The songs sprawl out, sometimes topping 12 minutes, the artists clearly in no rush to be anywhere but the moment. Piet Levy, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 2 Dec. 2021 The people with nowhere to go walk slowly, or sprawl on the sidewalk of the city’s main street. Carl Nolte, San Francisco Chronicle, 17 July 2021 Some districts sprawl hundreds of miles, over the mountains and through the woods. Los Angeles Times, 16 Nov. 2021 In one image, Molly, Leslie and one of the Jens playfully sprawl out on an apartment floor littered with magazines, a coffee cup and a rotary telephone, their arms stretching nearly to touch in the center like a sunburst. CNN, 8 Nov. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The street connects the city’s past and present: On one end sits the cluster of Old West-style buildings of the historic center, and on the other, the sprawl of fast food outlets and big box retailers. New York Times, 10 Jan. 2022 The employee sprawl continued as the Swedish company expanded into the podcasting business, acquiring L.A. production companies the Ringer and Parcast. Jack Flemming, Los Angeles Times, 1 Jan. 2022 Might more affluent families resist the urge to purchase gas-guzzling SUVs, or flee cities altogether, contributing to suburban sprawl and climate change? Kendra Hurley, The New Republic, 29 Nov. 2021 That view is prevalent given Portland’s celebrated success in having reinvigorated its downtown once before, bucking the American trend toward suburban sprawl. New York Times, 9 Nov. 2021 As suburban sprawl enveloped the areas around cities, racist resource allocation hollowed out urban centers and encouraged white flight. Mar Hicks, Wired, 14 Oct. 2021 Just over the mountains from this grow is the sprawl of greater Los Angeles and its 19 million people. NBC News, 1 Dec. 2021 The sprawl will mean changes in the traditionally agricultural use of the land and in the culture of more rural living. Ron Wood, Arkansas Online, 10 Oct. 2021 By 2019, thousands of lawsuits from an ever-growing sprawl of plaintiffs piled into federal and state courts. New York Times, 8 July 2021

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

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 3b

Noun

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for sprawl

Verb

Middle English, from Old English sprēawlian

Learn More About sprawl

Time Traveler for sprawl

Time Traveler

The first known use of sprawl was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near sprawl

sprauchle

sprawl

sprawler

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for sprawl

Last Updated

4 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Sprawl.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sprawl. Accessed 20 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for sprawl

sprawl

verb

English Language Learners Definition of sprawl

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to lie or sit with your arms and legs spread wide apart
: to spread or develop in an uneven or uncontrolled way

sprawl

noun

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

: a group of things (such as buildings) that cover an area in an uneven and ugly way

sprawl

verb
\ ˈsprȯl How to pronounce sprawl (audio) \
sprawled; sprawling

Kids Definition of sprawl

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to lie or sit with arms and legs spread out
2 : to spread out unevenly The city of Madison sprawls between two lakes …— Sharon Creech, Walk Two Moons

sprawl

noun

Kids Definition of sprawl (Entry 2 of 2)

: the act or posture of spreading out

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