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[spred-ee-guh l] /ˈsprɛdˌi gəl/
having or suggesting the form of a spread eagle.
lying prone with arms and legs outstretched.
boastful or bombastic, especially in the display of patriotic or nationalistic pride in the U.S.
verb (used with object), spread-eagled, spread-eagling.
to stretch out (something) in the manner of a spread eagle.
verb (used without object), spread-eagled, spread-eagling.
to assume the position or perform the acrobatic figure of a spread eagle:
The skater spread-eagled across the rink.
Origin of spread-eagle
First recorded in 1820-30

spread eagle

a representation of an eagle with outspread wings: used as an emblem of the U.S.
an acrobatic figure in skating performed by making a glide with the skates touching heel-to-heel in a straight line and with the arms outstretched.
an acrobatic stunt in ski jumping executed with the legs and arms widely outstretched to the sides.
First recorded in 1560-70 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for spread-eagle
Historical Examples
  • The ball-room was in the third story of the spread-eagle Hotel.

    The Blunders of a Bashful Man Metta Victoria Fuller Victor
  • Two or three of them, in fact, to spread-eagle whatever it is.

    Skylark Three Edward Elmer Smith
  • "Shuffle and spread-eagle them again, for luck," Carney suggested.

    Bulldog Carney W. A. Fraser
  • You can't leave your country without taking the spread-eagle with you!

    An American Girl Abroad Adeline Trafton
  • The paper bore our Florentine water-mark, and was written with a spread-eagle. '

  • On the contrary his vision is often of the spread-eagle sort.

  • It was the age of "spread-eagle" speeches, and many of Benton's were no exception to the rule.

    Thomas Hart Benton Theodore Roosevelt
  • No "spread-eagle" politician even conceived what will be sure to come.

  • Crest / an American or spread-eagle bearing the union-jack displayed, over all a sun in splendour which never sets.

    "Mr Punch's" Book of Arms Edward Tennyson Reed
  • But if Emetic could not spread-eagle the field, she could set a pace that would try the stamina and lungs of Pegasus.

    Garrison's Finish W. B. M. Ferguson
British Dictionary definitions for spread-eagle


lying or standing with arms and legs outstretched
to assume or cause to assume the shape of a spread eagle
(intransitive) (skating) to execute a spread eagle

spread eagle

the representation of an eagle with outstretched wings, used as an emblem of the US
an acrobatic skating figure
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for spread-eagle

literally "splayed eagle," 1560s, a heraldic term; the figure is that of the seal of the United States (hence spreadeagleism "extravagant laudation of the U.S.," 1858). Meaning "person secured with arms and legs stretched out" (originally to be flogged) is attested from 1785.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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