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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb GateWay has six campuses that sprawl across the Valley, all housing different programs. Farah Eltohamy, The Arizona Republic, "Butchers, welders and aestheticians require in-person training. Here's how that happens with COVID-19," 9 Oct. 2020 Dine on 17th Street NW and massage chairs sprawl across turf grass. Washington Post, "Live updates: Trump incorrectly claims that coronavirus affects ‘virtually’ no young people," 22 Sep. 2020 Dine on 17th Street NW and massage chairs sprawl across turf grass. Washington Post, "Live updates: Trump incorrectly claims that coronavirus affects ‘virtually’ no young people," 22 Sep. 2020 Dine on 17th Street NW and massage chairs sprawl across turf grass. Washington Post, "Live updates: Trump incorrectly claims that coronavirus affects ‘virtually’ no young people," 22 Sep. 2020 San Diego County cities are starting to say no to sprawl development, which is good, Parent said Thursday. Phil Diehl, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Why do some housing projects pass and others fail?," 8 Nov. 2020 Dine on 17th Street NW and massage chairs sprawl across turf grass. Washington Post, "Live updates: Trump incorrectly claims that coronavirus affects ‘virtually’ no young people," 22 Sep. 2020 Dine on 17th Street NW and massage chairs sprawl across turf grass. Washington Post, "Live updates: Trump incorrectly claims that coronavirus affects ‘virtually’ no young people," 22 Sep. 2020 Dine on 17th Street NW and massage chairs sprawl across turf grass. Washington Post, "Live updates: Trump incorrectly claims that coronavirus affects ‘virtually’ no young people," 22 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But city planners and residents wanted to preserve the area’s agriculture and open space, and since 2002 Livermore has had an urban growth boundary drawn around the city to resist further sprawl and concentrate new building downtown. Brian Coyne, SFChronicle.com, "Livermore: BART friendly, bikeable wine country," 4 Mar. 2019 The president said his proposals to control the virus were especially important for residents of the metropolitan area of Mexico City, a vast sprawl with a population of over 20 million where the festive shopping season has already caused alarm. NBC News, "'No presents': Mexicans urged to be cautious this Christmas to stop pandemic," 5 Dec. 2020 Inside, glass panes with thick wooden frames display vibrant views of overgrown ferns and lanky palms and blooming trees, backed by Cali’s sprawl in the distance. Ingrid Abramovitch, ELLE Decor, "How Artist Anita Calero Crafted a Home That Is Utterly Hers," 19 Nov. 2020 The Iraqi military said that four rockets had landed on the Green Zone, a sprawl of embassy buildings located in the center of the Iraqi capital. Washington Post, "Rockets strike Baghdad’s Green Zone after U.S. announces Iraq troop drawdown," 17 Nov. 2020 Dashoush envies the sprawl of new high-rises, foot traffic and restaurants that have sprouted up on Las Olas Boulevard since the pandemic. Phillip Valys, sun-sentinel.com, "Den Kitchen and Bar, new Fort Lauderdale gastropub, coming to downtown Himmarshee Village," 2 Dec. 2020 The Vibrant NEO project showed that if sprawl continues, counties will face tax increases to pay for more and more infrastructure. Steven Litt, cleveland, "NOACA to hold online webinar Monday, November 9 to discuss new draft policy on highway interchanges," 5 Nov. 2020 The national park and its trails feel like an oasis from the suburban sprawl that surrounds them. New York Times, "Leaf Peeping Is Not Canceled: 6 Drives and Hikes to Try This Fall," 1 Oct. 2020 Agdam, which is to be turned over next week, once was a city of about 40,000, but now is an empty sprawl of buildings that were destroyed in the first war or later ruined by pillagers grabbing building materials. chicagotribune.com, "Armenians burn their homes rather than turn them over to Azerbaijan," 14 Nov. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Statistics for sprawl

Last Updated

29 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sprawl.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sprawl. Accessed 17 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for sprawl

sprawl

verb
How to pronounce sprawl (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on sprawl

What made you want to look up sprawl? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Words of Snow and Ice Quiz

  • image1037863653
  • Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Typeshift

Anagram puzzles meet word search.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!