Origin of spawn

1350–1400; Middle English spawnen (v.), probably < Anglo-French espaundre (Old French espandre) to expand
Related formsspawn·er, nounun·spawned, adjective

Synonyms for spawn

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

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British Dictionary definitions for spawn



the mass of eggs deposited by fish, amphibians, or molluscs
often derogatory offspring, product, or yield
botany the nontechnical name for mycelium


(of fish, amphibians, etc) to produce or deposit (eggs)
often derogatory (of people) to produce (offspring)
(tr) to produce or engender
Derived Formsspawner, noun

Word Origin for spawn

C14: from Anglo-Norman espaundre, from Old French spandre to spread out, expand
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 spawn

early 15c., from Anglo-French espaundre, Old French espandre "to spread out, pour out," from Latin expandere (see expand). The notion is of a "spreading out" of fish eggs released in water. The meaning "to engender, give rise to" is attested from 1590s. Related: Spawned; spawning.


early 15c., from spawn (v.); figurative sense of "brood, offspring" is from 1580s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Science definitions for spawn




The eggs of water animals such as fish, amphibians, and mollusks.
Offspring produced in large numbers.


To lay eggs; produce spawn.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.