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[spring] /sprɪŋ/
verb (used without object), sprang or, often sprung; sprung; springing.
to rise, leap, move, or act suddenly and swiftly, as by a sudden dart or thrust forward or outward, or being suddenly released from a coiled or constrained position:
to spring into the air; a tiger about to spring.
to be released from a constrained position, as by resilient or elastic force or from the action of a spring:
A trap springs. The door sprang open and in he walked.
to issue forth suddenly, as water, blood, sparks, fire, etc. (often followed by forth, out, or up):
Blood sprang from the wound.
to come into being, rise, or arise within a short time (usually followed by up):
Industries sprang up in the suburbs.
to come into being by growth, as from a seed or germ, bulb, root, etc.; grow, as plants.
to proceed or originate from a specific source or cause.
to have as one's birth or lineage; be descended, as from a person, family, stock, etc.; come from:
to spring from ancient aristocracy.
to rise or extend upward, as a spire.
to take an upward course or curve from a point of support, as an arch.
to come or appear suddenly, as if at a bound:
An objection sprang to mind.
to start or rise from cover, as a pheasant, woodcock, or the like.
to become bent or warped, as boards.
to shift or work loose, as parts of a mechanism, structure, etc.:
The board sprang from the fence during the storm.
to explode, as a mine.
Archaic. to begin to appear, as day, light, etc.; dawn.
verb (used with object), sprang or, often sprung; sprung; springing.
to cause to spring.
to cause to fly back, move, or act, as by resiliency, elastic force, a spring, etc.:
to spring a lock.
to cause to shift out of place, work loose, warp, split, or crack:
Moisture sprang the board from the fence.
to split or crack:
The ship sprang its keel on a rock.
to develop by or as by splitting or cracking:
The boat sprang a leak.
to bend by force, or force in by bending, as a resilient slat or bar.
to stretch or bend (a spring or other resilient device) beyond its elastic tolerance:
This clip has been sprung.
to bring out, disclose, produce, make, etc., suddenly:
to spring a joke.
to leap over.
Slang. to secure the release of (someone) from confinement, as of jail, military service, or the like.
Nautical. to move (a vessel) into or out of a berth by pulling on the offshore end of a warp made fast to the pier.
to explode (a mine).
a leap, jump, or bound.
a sudden movement caused by the release of something elastic.
an elastic or bouncing quality:
There is a spring in his walk.
elasticity or resilience:
This board has spring in it.
a structural defect or injury caused by a warp, crack, etc.
an issue of water from the earth, taking the form, on the surface, of a small stream or standing as a pool or small lake.
the place of such an issue:
mineral springs.
a source or fountainhead of something:
a spring of inspiration.
an elastic contrivance or body, as a strip or wire of steel coiled spirally, that recovers its shape after being compressed, bent, or stretched.
the season between winter and summer: in the Northern Hemisphere from the vernal equinox to the summer solstice; in the Southern Hemisphere from the autumnal equinox to the winter solstice.
(in temperate zones) the season of the year following winter and characterized by the budding of trees, growth of plants, the onset of warmer weather, etc.
the first stage and freshest period:
the spring of life.
sometimes initial capital letter. a period of growth, recovery, or regeneration (usually used in combination):
signs of an economic spring.
usually initial capital letter.
  1. a popular movement calling for liberal reforms and opposing authoritarian restrictions on freedom and information access (usually used in combination):
    the brief Seoul Spring of 1979–80; the Academic Spring’s goal of free access to published research.
  2. a period of liberalization or democratization.
  1. warp (def 16).
  2. a line from the quarter of a vessel to an anchor on the bottom, used to hold the vessel at its mooring, broadside to the current.
Also called springing. Architecture.
  1. the point at which an arch or dome rises from its support.
  2. the rise or the angle of the rise of an arch.
Archaic. the dawn, as of day, light, etc.
of, pertaining to, characteristic of, or suitable for the season of spring:
spring flowers.
resting on or containing mechanical springs.
Verb phrases
spring for, Informal. to pay for; treat someone to.
Origin of spring
before 900; (v.) Middle English springen, Old English springan; cognate with Dutch, German springen, Old Norse springa; (noun) Middle English spring(e), Old English spring, spryng issue of a stream; compare Middle Low German, Old High German, Danish, Swedish spring
Related forms
springlike, adjective
outspring, verb (used with object), outsprang or, often outsprung; outsprung; outspringing.
respring, verb, resprang or, often resprung, respringing.
underspring, noun
underspring, verb (used without object), undersprang or undersprung, undersprung, underspringing.
1. jump, bound, hop, vault. 2. recoil, rebound. 3. shoot, dart, fly. 4. start, originate. 6. emerge, emanate, issue, flow. 12. bend, warp. 31. resiliency, buoyancy. 35. origin, head. 45. vernal. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for spring
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • There was another debate over spring, who had followed his master as usual.

    The Armourer's Prentices Charlotte M. Yonge
  • "The spring has gotten a strangle-hold on my judgment," he said to himself.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • And still more of this belated spring will gladden the eye in the florist's window.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • It must not be supposed that this spring day in the spring places had reformed his manner of delivery.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • But spring is not all of life, nor what at once chiefly concerns us.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
British Dictionary definitions for spring


verb springs, springing, sprang, sprung, sprung
to move or cause to move suddenly upwards or forwards in a single motion
to release or be released from a forced position by elastic force: the bolt sprang back
(transitive) to leap or jump over
(intransitive) to come, issue, or arise suddenly
(intransitive) (of a part of a mechanism, etc) to jump out of place
to make (wood, etc) warped or split or (of wood, etc) to become warped or split
to happen or cause to happen unexpectedly: to spring a surprise, the boat sprung a leak
(intransitive) to develop or originate: the idea sprang from a chance meeting
(intransitive) usually foll by from. to be descended: he sprang from peasant stock
(intransitive) often foll by up. to come into being or appear suddenly: factories springing up
(transitive) (of a gun dog) to rouse (game) from cover
(intransitive) (of game or quarry) to start or rise suddenly from cover
(intransitive) to appear to have a strong upward movement: the beam springs away from the pillar
to explode (a mine) or (of a mine) to explode
(transitive) to provide with a spring or springs
(transitive) (informal) to arrange the escape of (someone) from prison
(intransitive) (archaic or poetic) (of daylight or dawn) to begin to appear
the act or an instance of springing
a leap, jump, or bound
  1. the quality of resilience; elasticity
  2. (as modifier): spring steel
the act or an instance of moving rapidly back from a position of tension
  1. a natural outflow of ground water, as forming the source of a stream
  2. (as modifier): spring water
  1. a device, such as a coil or strip of steel, that stores potential energy when it is compressed, stretched, or bent and releases it when the restraining force is removed
  2. (as modifier): a spring mattress
a structural defect such as a warp or bend
  1. (sometimes capital) the season of the year between winter and summer, astronomically from the March equinox to the June solstice in the N hemisphere and from the September equinox to the December solstice in the S hemisphere
  2. (as modifier): spring showers, related adjective vernal
the earliest or freshest time of something
a source or origin
one of a set of strips of rubber, steel, etc, running down the inside of the handle of a cricket bat, hockey stick, etc
(nautical) Also called spring line. a mooring line, usually one of a pair that cross amidships
a flock of teal
(architect) another name for springing
Derived Forms
springless, adjective
springlike, adjective
Word Origin
Old English springan; related to Old Norse springa, Old High German springan, Sanskrit sprhayati he desires, Old Slavonic pragu grasshopper
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 spring

Old English springan "to leap, burst forth, fly up" (class III strong verb; past tense sprang, past participle sprungen), from Proto-Germanic *sprenganan (cf. Old Norse, Old Frisian springa, Middle Dutch springhen, Old High German springan, German springen), from PIE *sprengh- "rapid movement" (cf. Sanskrit sprhayati "desires eagerly," Greek sperkhesthai "to hurry").

In Middle English, it took on the role of causal sprenge, from Old English sprengan (as still in to spring a trap, etc.). Slang meaning "to pay" (for a treat, etc.) is recorded from 1906. Meaning "to announce suddenly" (usually with on) is from 1876. Meaning "to release" (from imprisonment) is from 1900.


"season following winter," 1540s, earlier springing time (late 14c.), spring-time (late 15c.), spring of the year (1520s), which had replaced Old English Lent by late 14c. From spring (v.); also see spring (n.3). The notion is of the "spring of the year," when plants "spring up" (cf. spring of the leaf, 1530s).

Other Germanic languages tend to take words for "fore" or "early" as their roots for the season name, cf. Danish voraar, Dutch voorjaar, literally "fore-year;" German Frühling, from Middle High German vrueje "early." In 15c., the season also was prime-temps, after Old French prin tans, tamps prim (French printemps, which replaced primevère 16c. as the common word for spring), from Latin tempus primum, literally "first time, first season."

Spring fever was Old English lenctenadle; first record of spring cleaning is in 1857 (in ancient Persia, the first month, corresponding to March-April, was Adukanaiša, which apparently means "Irrigation-Canal-Cleaning Month;" Kent, p.167). Spring chicken "small roasting chicken" (usually 11 to 14 weeks) is recorded from 1780; transferred sense of "young person" first recorded 1906. Spring training first attested 1897.


"source of a stream or river," Old English, from spring (v.) on the notion of the water "bursting forth" from the ground. Rarely used alone, appearing more often in compounds, e.g. wyllspring "wellspring." Figurative sense of "source or origin of something" is attested from early 13c.


"act of springing or leaping," mid-15c., from spring (v.). The elastic coil that returns to its shape when stretched is so called from early 15c., originally in clocks and watches. As a device in carriages, coaches, etc., it is attested from 1660s. The oldest noun sense (c.1300) is a general one of "action or time of rising or springing into existence." It was used of sunrise, the waxing of the moon, rising tides, etc., and is preserved in spring (n.1).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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spring in Science
  1. A device, such as a coil of wire, that returns to its original shape after being compressed or stretched. Because of their ability to return to their original shape, springs are used to store energy, as in mechanical clocks, and to absorb or lessen energy, as in the suspension system of vehicles.

  2. A small stream of water flowing naturally from the Earth.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for spring



  1. To get out of or be released or escape from prison: The proprietor knew how to ''spring'' them, that is, get them out of jail/ When's he springing? (1900+ Underworld)
  2. To reveal or do something as a surprise • Very often used with on: John L Lewis is preparing to spring a dramatic move/ If we spring it on them suddenly they won't know how to react (1876+)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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