Synonyms & Antonyms of expand

1 to express more fully and in greater detail
  • an article on the First Ladies that the author later expanded into a book

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2 to make greater in size, amount, or number
  • we had to expand the list of wedding guests several times in order to accommodate all the relatives Mother wouldn't dream of excluding

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3 to arrange the parts of (something) over a wider area
  • a spare leaf for those times when we have to expand the dining table to accommodate extra guests

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4 to become greater in extent, volume, amount, or number
  • water expands when it becomes frozen

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See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About expand

How does the verb expand differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of expand are amplify, dilate, distend, inflate, and swell. While all these words mean "to increase in size or volume," expand may apply regardless of the manner of increase (such as growth, unfolding, addition of parts).

a business that expands every year

When can amplify be used instead of expand?

The meanings of amplify and expand largely overlap; however, amplify implies the extension or enlargement of something inadequate.

amplify the statement with details

When might dilate be a better fit than expand?

Although the words dilate and expand have much in common, dilate applies especially to expansion of circumference.

dilated pupils

When is distend a more appropriate choice than expand?

The words distend and expand can be used in similar contexts, but distend implies outward extension caused by pressure from within.

a distended abdomen

When is it sensible to use inflate instead of expand?

In some situations, the words inflate and expand are roughly equivalent. However, inflate implies expanding by introduction of air or something insubstantial and suggests a vulnerability to sudden collapse.

an inflated ego

In what contexts can swell take the place of expand?

While the synonyms swell and expand are close in meaning, swell implies gradual expansion beyond a thing's original or normal limits.

the bureaucracy swelled to unmanageable proportions

Learn More About expand

Time Traveler for expand

Time Traveler

The first known use of expand was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Expand.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on expand

Nglish: Translation of expand for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of expand for Arabic Speakers


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