Synonym Chooser

How does the verb dilate differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of dilate are amplify, distend, expand, inflate, and swell. While all these words mean "to increase in size or volume," dilate applies especially to expansion of circumference.

dilated pupils

When is amplify a more appropriate choice than dilate?

In some situations, the words amplify and dilate are roughly equivalent. However, amplify implies the extension or enlargement of something inadequate.

amplify the statement with details

When can distend be used instead of dilate?

The words distend and dilate are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, distend implies outward extension caused by pressure from within.

a distended abdomen

Where would expand be a reasonable alternative to dilate?

Although the words expand and dilate have much in common, expand may apply regardless of the manner of increase (such as growth, unfolding, addition of parts).

a business that expands every year

When is it sensible to use inflate instead of dilate?

The synonyms inflate and dilate are sometimes interchangeable, but inflate implies expanding by introduction of air or something insubstantial and suggests a vulnerability to sudden collapse.

an inflated ego

When would swell be a good substitute for dilate?

The words swell and dilate can be used in similar contexts, but swell implies gradual expansion beyond a thing's original or normal limits.

the bureaucracy swelled to unmanageable proportions

Thesaurus Entries Near dilate

Cite this Entry

“Dilate.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/dilate. Accessed 22 May. 2024.

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