wid·en | \ˈwī-dᵊn \
widened; widening\ˈwīd-niŋ, ˈwī-dᵊn-iŋ \

Definition of widen 

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

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Other Words from widen

widener \ˈwīd-nər, ˈwī-dᵊn-ər \ noun

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

That has widened Broadcom’s profit margins by more than 20 percentage points since 2009 and earned him praise from the market. Bloomberg, latimes.com, "Broadcom agrees to buy CA Technologies for $18.9 billion," 12 July 2018 Cobb residents are divided over whether the county should raise taxes to fill a widening budget gap. Meris Lutz, ajc, "Proposed Cobb tax increase galvanizes residents for and against," 8 July 2018 In this nominally socialist country, the widening gap between rich and poor remains a touchy subject that leaders can ill-afford to ignore. Don Lee, latimes.com, "In China's 'money worshiping' movie industry, stars' high pay becomes a target of the central government," 5 July 2018 Critics have blamed portions of the contract, which expires Saturday, for the district's widening achievement gap. Mandy Mclaren, The Courier-Journal, "JCPS and the teachers union expected to agree on a contract Tuesday," 26 June 2018 After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, immigration enforcement moved under the Department of Homeland Security and greatly widened in scope. Kavitha Surana, Philly.com, "How immigration officers can get away with racial profiling," 8 June 2018 Decades of division have created an ever-widening economic and cultural gap that analysts say could take years to overcome – and that’s if South Koreans want to overcome it at all. Michael Holtz, The Christian Science Monitor, "Reunification? Many young South Koreans say, 'Let's not.'," 3 May 2018 The wage gap has continued to widen in the United States over the past few decades. Fernando Ramirez, Houston Chronicle, "The best companies in Texas to work for, according to Forbes," 2 May 2018 Over 70 years of separation has left the two Koreas with a rapidly widening cultural gap that can leave North Korean defectors -- who often arrive in the country alone, without family or friends to support them -- feeling alienated and confused. James Griffiths, CNN, "North Korean defectors say unification requires closing a cultural chasm," 29 Apr. 2018

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

1566, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

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Statistics for widen

Last Updated

16 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for widen

The first known use of widen was in 1566

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More Definitions for widen



English Language Learners Definition of widen

: to make (something) wide or wider

: to become wide or wider


wid·en | \ˈwī-dᵊn \
widened; widening

Kids Definition of widen

: to make or become wide or wider The road is being widened.

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Comments on widen

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


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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