[ ik-stent ]
/ ɪkˈstɛnt /
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the space or degree to which a thing extends; length, area, volume, or scope: the extent of his lands; to be right to a certain extent.
something extended, as a space; a particular length, area, or volume; something having extension: the limitless extent of the skies.
U.S. Law. a writ, or a levy, by which a debtor's lands are valued and transferred to the creditor, absolutely or for a term of years.
English Law.
  1. Also called writ of extent. a writ to recover debts of a record due to the crown, under which land, property, etc., may be seized.
  2. a seizure made under such a writ.
Archaic. assessment or valuation, as of land.
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Origin of extent

1250–1300; Middle English extente assessment <Medieval Latin extenta, noun use of feminine of Latin extentus, past participle of extendere to extend


pre·ex·tent, noun


extant, extent
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is extent?

Extent is the length, area, volume, or scope something reaches to, as in The extent of Sheree’s knowledge of science fiction was very deep.

Extent is a very common term that can refer to measurements, concepts, ideals, plans, and many other fields that measure anything, literal or figurative.

Extent can also refer to something that has a lengthening, stretching out, or enlarging scope, especially when the boundaries aren’t known. You might hear someone talk about the limitless extent of space, for example.

The phrase the extent of means that something has reached the extreme or the border of how far it can go, as in I can raise your allowance by $5, but that’s the extent of what I can do.

Example: We know that the pan can get hot, but we are unsure to what extent.

Where does extent come from?

The first records of the term extent come from around 1250. It ultimately comes from the Latin extendere, meaning “to extend.”

Extent has specific meanings in the law. In the United States, an extent is a formal order, or writ, that allows a creditor to take over a debtor’s lands, either temporarily or permanently, when the debtor can’t pay the debt.

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What are some other forms related to extent?

  • preextent (noun)

What are some synonyms for extent?

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

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

What are some words extent may be commonly confused with?

How is extent used in real life?

Extent is almost always used in discussions about measurement, even when dealing with debt.


Try using extent!

Is extent used correctly in the following sentence?

Caleb didn’t study to a great extent for the final exam, but he managed to pass it anyway.

How to use extent in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for extent

/ (ɪkˈstɛnt) /

the range over which something extends; scopethe extent of the damage
an area or volumea vast extent of concrete
US law a writ authorizing a person to whom a debt is due to assume temporary possession of his debtor's lands
logic another word for extension (def. 11)

Word Origin for extent

C14: from Old French extente, from Latin extentus extensive, from extendere to 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

Other Idioms and Phrases with extent


see to some degree (extent).

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.