spread-ea·​gle | \ ˈspred-ˌē-gəl How to pronounce spread-eagle (audio) \
spread-eagled; spread-eagling\ ˈspred-​ˌē-​g(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce spread-eagling (audio) \

Definition of spread-eagle

 (Entry 1 of 3)

intransitive verb

1 : to execute a spread eagle (as in skating)
2 : to stand or move with arms and legs stretched out : sprawl

transitive verb

1 : to stretch out into the position of a spread eagle
2 : to spread over



Definition of spread-eagle (Entry 2 of 3)

: marked by bombast and boastful exaggeration especially of the greatness of the U.S. spread-eagle oratory

spread eagle


Definition of spread eagle (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : a representation of an eagle with wings raised and legs extended
2 : something resembling or suggestive of a spread eagle specifically : a skating figure executed with the skates heel to heel in a straight line

Examples of spread-eagle in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Espanyol striker Raul Tamudo sneaked in behind the hosts' defence and slid his attempt past the spread eagle keeper to level things up, not only in the tie but also in the title chase, however, Los Blancos held the upper hand in the head-to-head. SI.com, "Espanyol vs Barcelona Match Preview: Classic Encounter, Key Battle, Team News & More," 3 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'spread-eagle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of spread-eagle


1826, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


1853, in the meaning defined above


1550, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for spread-eagle


from the spread eagle on the Great Seal of the U.S.

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Time Traveler for spread-eagle

The first known use of spread-eagle was in 1550

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with spread-eagle

Comments on spread-eagle

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


to form ideas or theories about something

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