height·​en | \ ˈhī-tᵊn How to pronounce heighten (audio) \
heightened; heightening\ ˈhīt-​niŋ How to pronounce heighten (audio) , ˈhī-​tᵊn-​iŋ \

Definition of heighten

transitive verb

1a : to increase the amount or degree of : augment
b : to make brighter or more intense : deepen
c : to bring out more strongly : point up
d : to make more acute : sharpen
2a : to raise high or higher : elevate
b : to raise above the ordinary or trite
3 obsolete : elate

intransitive verb

1 archaic : grow, rise
2a : to become great or greater in amount, degree, or extent
b : to become brighter or more intense

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Examples of heighten in a Sentence

The plan will only heighten tensions between the two groups. This tragedy has heightened our awareness of the need for improved safety measures. Tensions between the two groups have heightened.
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Recent Examples on the Web Superb acting performances heighten the drama, particularly from Lee, who makes Gi-hun irresistibly likable despite his many flaws. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, 1 Oct. 2021 Wildfire exposure can also heighten the risk of strokes and create complications with pregnancies. BostonGlobe.com, 15 Aug. 2021 For a driver, few things heighten the connection with a car as effectively as working a clutch pedal and rowing your own gears. Mike Sutton, Car and Driver, 12 Aug. 2021 Hurricane Larry is expected to heighten the risk of rip currents at beaches across Massachusetts starting Wednesday, the National Weather Service said. BostonGlobe.com, 5 Sep. 2021 The evidence prompted agency officials to add pregnancy to the list of conditions that heighten the risk of severe disease and death from Covid. New York Times, 22 Aug. 2021 Aid organizations now fear the deadly combination of landslides, falling debris and flooding will heighten the risk of disease to the local population. Eloise Barry, Time, 20 Aug. 2021 Pivoting to animation was a chance to expand the story’s settings, heighten some elements even further all while maintaining health and safety precautions. Danielle Turchiano, Variety, 27 Aug. 2021 To heighten the effect, members of the museum’s glassmaking team have created historically accurate glass versions of the colorful, eye-catching delicacies—syllabubs, custards, candies, ice creams—that would have filled the sparkling tableware. Susan Delson, WSJ, 23 Apr. 2021

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

1523, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

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Time Traveler for heighten

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The first known use of heighten was in 1523

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Last Updated

8 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Heighten.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heighten. Accessed 19 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for heighten



English Language Learners Definition of heighten

: to increase the amount, degree, or extent of (something) : increase


height·​en | \ ˈhī-tᵊn How to pronounce heighten (audio) \
heightened; heightening

Kids Definition of heighten

: to make greater : increase The film heightened their interest in Alaska.

More from Merriam-Webster on heighten

Nglish: Translation of heighten for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of heighten for Arabic Speakers


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