verb (used with object)

to increase the height of; make higher.
to increase the degree or amount of; augment: Cézanne's death heightened the value of his paintings.
to strengthen, deepen, or intensify: to heighten the plot of a story; to heighten one's awareness or appreciation; to heighten one's suffering.
to bring out the important features of, as in a drawing: to heighten a picture with Chinese white.

verb (used without object)

Origin of heighten

First recorded in 1515–25; height + -en1
Related formsheight·en·er, nounun·height·ened, adjective

Synonym study

1. See elevate.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for heighten

Contemporary Examples of heighten

Historical Examples of heighten

  • If it is an imperfect word, no external circumstance can heighten its value as poetry.

    The Lyric

    John Drinkwater

  • The Gothinians, to heighten their disgrace, are forced to labour in the iron mines.

  • It's an axiom, I think, that to heighten a nation's wisdom you must lower its franchise.

  • Possibly she was so choosy in order to heighten her importance.

  • Some old dyers use Brazil wood to heighten the red of madder.

    Vegetable Dyes

    Ethel M. Mairet

British Dictionary definitions for heighten



to make or become high or higher
to make or become more extreme or intense
Derived Formsheightened, adjectiveheightener, noun
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

Word Origin and History for heighten

mid-15c., heightenen "to exalt, to honor or raise to high position," from height + -en (1). Related: Heightened; heightening.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper