sprawl

verb
\ˈsprȯl \
sprawled; sprawling; sprawls

Definition of sprawl 

(Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a archaic : to lie thrashing or tossing about

b : to creep or clamber awkwardly

2 : to lie or sit with arms and legs spread out

3 : to spread or develop irregularly or without restraint bushes sprawling along the road sprawling suburbs a sprawling narrative

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 : the act, posture, or condition of sprawling

2 : an irregularly spread or scattered group or mass

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

In a quiet nook in the small city of La Verne, small cottages topped with Spanish tile are spread across a sprawling green campus. Nina Agrawal, latimes.com, "Inside the California facilities holding children separated from their parents at the border," 23 June 2018 Its sprawling 1,839-acre campus is the second largest in the country (behind the Air Force Academy). Dan Fellner, azcentral, "Why Lubbock, TX, is hot: Texas Tech, Buddy Holly and wine," 13 June 2018 All told, 8,000 people work inside this sprawling 329-acre campus. Sean Patrick Cooper, The New Republic, "Is America Ready for the Next Superstorm?," 4 June 2018 Her new school’s size — more than 2,600 students on a sprawling campus — was overwhelming. Leslie Postal, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Puerto Rican student who fled to Central Florida after hurricane gets hard-earned diploma," 24 May 2018 The factory complex is a sprawling campus of production buildings, administrative offices, and giant fermentation tanks. Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, "A Pilgrimage to MSG Mecca," 1 May 2018 Even further north of Broad Street (both geographically and culturally) is Edmund’s Oast, a sprawling indoor-outdoor beer hall that would be mobbed even if the food menu wasn’t so inventive. Brendan Vaughan, GQ, "11 Reasons Why The New Charleston Should Be Your Next Weekend Trip," 29 Apr. 2018 Red Faction Guerrilla was one of the best of that era, a paean to destruction set on a sprawling Martian colony. Julie Muncy, WIRED, "Fortnite Season 5 Is Here, and the Rest of the Week in Games," 13 July 2018 The sprawling Los Feliz, California, property has been quietly shopped around since late June, according to Curbed. Maria Pasquini, PEOPLE.com, "Famous Blade Runner House Listed for $23 Million: See the Photos!," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But critics say extending a highway ranked among the 50 worst in the U.S. beyond the urban development border, rather than focusing on the county's SMART transit plan, will only invite more sprawl. Jenny Staletovich, miamiherald, "Roadblock for Miami-Dade parkway plan? Feds own big chunks of wetlands along the route," 19 June 2018 Several council members at the time said HOV lanes - which become regular all-user lanes during non-commute hours - would just encourage more suburban sprawl and more traffic. Tony Bizjak, sacbee, "Highway 50 drivers, your daily commute is in for a big change. Light rail users, you too | The Sacramento Bee," 30 Apr. 2018 But now the Bayou City — known for its sprawl and elastic economy — has fallen behind a trend that began in 2016 when Houston first showed signs of slowing down. Peggy O’hare, San Antonio Express-News, "City’s population growth largest in nation, census data shows," 23 May 2018 The Los Angeles designers’ task was to integrate history with the contemporary, generating stylistic populism that nodded to the specifics of the city’s history, o’erleaped its sprawl, and emphasized the temporary, festival nature of the Games. Alexandra Lange, Curbed, "Lessons from LA’s 1984 Summer Olympics," 17 May 2018 The camps sprawl across traditional migratory and feeding routes for the animals, which regularly enter the clusters of huts and wreak havoc. Jon Emont, WSJ, "Rohingya, Driven From Home, Face New Threat: Wild Elephants," 10 Mar. 2018 However, that could imply either more unwieldy sprawl, or perhaps a more organized focus, particularly if the rumors of the split being half-R&B and half-rap focused are to be believed. Andrew Unterberger, Billboard, "The Five Biggest Questions Facing Drake on His Upcoming 'Scorpion' Album," 28 June 2018 Parking spaces and lots generate relatively little tax revenue or economic activity relative to commercial operations, and by increasing sprawl may actually harm the economy of cities like Los Angeles. David Z. Morris, Fortune, "Yes, Uber Really Is Killing the Parking Business," 24 Feb. 2018 Today’s weather Today in history King County sets an urban-growth boundary in 1992, as required by the 1990 Growth Management Act, to prevent uncontrolled development and protect farmland and open space from sprawl. Morning Brief, The Seattle Times, "A look at Seattle neighborhoods where crime is (and isn’t) up and finally some good news for homebuyers | Friday Morning Brief, July 6," 6 July 2018

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 1a

Noun

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for sprawl

Verb

Middle English, from Old English sprēawlian

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Phrases Related to sprawl

send (someone) sprawling

Statistics for sprawl

Last Updated

19 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sprawl

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

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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 \
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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