wid·​en ˈwī-dᵊn How to pronounce widen (audio)
widened; widening ˈwīd-niŋ How to pronounce widen (audio)

transitive verb

: to increase the width, scope, or extent of
widen a road
widen an investigation

intransitive verb

: to become wide or wider
a widening gap
ˈwīd-nər How to pronounce widen (audio)

Examples of widen in a Sentence

The city is going to widen the road. They plan to widen the investigation. Her eyes widened in surprise. They went swimming at a spot where the river widens. The scope of the investigation has widened.
Recent Examples on the Web The yen fell to a fresh 10-month low against the dollar Thursday after the Federal Reserve’s rate projections suggested that the interest-rate gap between the U.S. and Japan would widen further. Megumi Fujikawa, WSJ, 21 Sep. 2023 The balance of military power across the strait tilts heavily in favor of Beijing, and the gap continues to widen. Hou Yu-Ih, Foreign Affairs, 18 Sep. 2023 The verdict quickly erupted into a political volcano in the Capitol, widening the rift between House Speaker Dade Phelan and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who leads the Senate. Philip Jankowski, Dallas News, 16 Sep. 2023 Read full article From its modest beginnings in the first days of September, Lee traveled more than 3,000 miles across the Atlantic, widening to a huge size and reaching Category 5 hurricane intensity with 165 mph winds well away from land on Sept. 8. Jenna Russell, BostonGlobe.com, 16 Sep. 2023 The second set was close, but Maryvale (2-1, 1-0) managed to get a block from Samantha Elliott, a kill from Gogol and an ace from Kaitlyn Hall to widen the lead to 12-8. Mike Frainie, Baltimore Sun, 13 Sep. 2023 Editor’s picks But as a songwriter, Valley of Heart’s Delight represents a profound leap forward, exploring darker territory that both sharpens and widens her scope as a storyteller. Jonathan Bernstein, Rolling Stone, 11 Sep. 2023 Because of this, authorities widened their 2-mile search to south of their original perimeter. Rachel Schilke, Washington Examiner, 11 Sep. 2023 Kate was introduced to representatives from the company that has helped the charity widen its work in the area. Simon Perry, Peoplemag, 19 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'widen.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1566, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of widen was in 1566

Dictionary Entries Near widen

Cite this Entry

“Widen.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/widen. Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


wid·​en ˈwīd-ᵊn How to pronounce widen (audio)
widened; widening ˈwīd-niŋ How to pronounce widen (audio)
: to make or become wide or wider : broaden

More from Merriam-Webster on widen

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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