Thesaurus

dilate

verb

Synonyms & Antonyms of dilate

See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About dilate

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about dilate

Time Traveler for dilate

Time Traveler

The first known use of dilate was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Cite this Entry

“Dilate.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/dilate. Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on dilate

Dictionary: Definition of dilate

Medical Dictionary: Definition of dilate

Nglish: Translation of dilate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dilate for Arabic Speakers

Comments on dilate

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

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

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!