[ ik-spand ]
/ ɪkˈspænd /
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See synonyms for: expand / expanded / expanding / expandable on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object)
to increase in extent, size, volume, scope, etc.: Heat expands most metals. He hopes to expand his company.
to spread or stretch out; unfold: A bird expands its wings.
to express in fuller form or greater detail; develop: to expand a short story into a novel.
  1. to write (a mathematical expression) so as to show the products of its factors.Compare factor (def. 10).
  2. to rewrite (a mathematical expression) as a sum, product, etc., of terms of a particular kind: to expand a function in a power series.
verb (used without object)
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Origin of expand

First recorded in 1450–1500; late Middle English expanden, from Latin expandere “to spread out,” equivalent to ex- ex-1 + pandere “to extend, stretch”

synonym study for expand

1. Expand, dilate, distend, inflate imply becoming larger and filling more space. To expand is to spread out, usually in every direction: to expand one's chest. To dilate is especially to increase the width or circumference, and applies to space enclosed within confines or to hollow bodies: to dilate the pupils of the eyes. To distend is to stretch, often beyond the point of natural expansion: to distend an artery. To inflate is to blow out or swell a hollow body with air or gas: to inflate a balloon.



expand , expend
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does expand mean?

To expand is to increase the extent or dimensions of something, as when a balloon expands when you blow air into it.

Expand can describe the increasing size of something in height, width, length, scope, boundary, or any other measurable unit of size, as when you expand an app menu by clicking on a down arrow.

To expand can also mean to stretch out or unfold, such as when a bird expands its wings when it gets ready to fly.

Figuratively, to expand means to develop or to express more fully, as in Disney really expanded the Star Wars universe when it bought the rights to it. 

A common use of expand is in the phrase expand upon, meaning to give greater detail or context. When teachers tell you to expand upon your essay’s theme, for example, they want you to describe the theme in more detail or give the theme more context so that readers will understand it better.

Example: Click and drag the corner of the square to expand it on the digital canvas.

Where does expand come from?

The first records of the term expand come from the mid-1400s. It ultimately comes from the Latin expandere meaning “to extend or stretch.”

You will likely hear expand used to talk about how smaller stories are developed into larger ones, like a novel expanded into a series of movies, as with J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Favorite fictional universes are also expanded to be told in more media, as with Marvel Comics, which has expanded from comic books to movies and TV shows and more.

You’ll also likely hear expand used to talk about actions you can take online or in an app. Menus can be expanded to show all the options. Boxes and windows can be expanded, meaning you make them bigger. Photos and other digital images are also often expanded.

And let’s not forget expansion packs, which expand the original. An expansion pack for a card game might be an additional set of cards. Computer and console games can also be expanded with new stories in the expansion pack.

The best thing you can expand, though, is your mind. The more curious you are, the more you can learn and the better you can understand the world. We hope this article has helped expand your knowledge of the word expand!

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What are some other forms related to expand?

  • expandable (adjective)
  • expandability (noun)
  • overexpand (verb)
  • reexpand (verb)
  • self-expanding (adjective)

What are some synonyms for expand?

What are some words that share a root or word element with expand

What are some words that often get used in discussing expand?

How is expand used in real life?

Expand is typically used when describing the layout, design, or structure of something and takes on different meanings, both literal and figurative, depending on the context.


Try using expand!

Which of the following is NOT a synonym for expand?

A. increase
B. grow
C. broaden
D. shrink

How to use expand in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for expand

/ (ɪkˈspænd) /

to make or become greater in extent, volume, size, or scope; increase
to spread out or be spread out; unfold; stretch out
(intr often foll by on) to enlarge or expatiate on (a story, topic, etc) in detail
(intr) to become increasingly relaxed, friendly, or talkative
maths to express (a function or expression) as the sum or product of terms

Derived forms of expand

expandable, adjective

Word Origin for expand

C15: from Latin expandere to spread out, from pandere to spread, extend
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