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See more synonyms for splay on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object)
  1. to spread out, expand, or extend.
  2. to form with an oblique angle; make slanting; bevel.
  3. to make with a splay or splays.
  4. to disjoin; dislocate.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to have an oblique or slanting direction.
  2. to spread or flare.
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  1. Architecture. a surface that makes an oblique angle with another, as where the opening through a wall for a window or door widens from the window or door proper toward the face of the wall.
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  1. spread out; wide and flat; turned outward.
  2. clumsy or awkward.
  3. oblique or awry.
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Origin of splay

1300–50; Middle English; aphetic form of display
Related formsun·splayed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for splaying

tilt, skew, widen, swerve, point, grade, lean, direct, cant, bend, decline, tip, diverge, descend, deviate, beam, train, bank, bevel, incline

Examples from the Web for splaying

Historical Examples of splaying

  • He was clean-shaven, blue-eyed, and had a fine shock of brown hair through which he was constantly pushing his splaying fingers.

    The Hills of Refuge

    Will N. Harben

  • Another way to make an end joint is by bevelled scarfing or splaying (Fig. 562).

    Woodworking for Beginners

    Charles Gardner Wheeler

  • Into the splaying breaches there rushed fresh troops from front and rear, and the lines thickened and swayed again.

  • His steel trowel rang like a bell as he tossed the red brick like a ball in his strong, splaying hand.

  • John asked, a look of shame crossing his face as he stood mechanically brushing his coat-sleeve with his big, splaying hand.

British Dictionary definitions for splaying


  1. spread out; broad and flat
  2. turned outwards in an awkward manner
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  1. to spread out; turn out or expand
  2. (tr) vet science to dislocate (a joint)
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  1. a surface of a wall that forms an oblique angle to the main flat surfaces, esp at a doorway or window opening
  2. enlargement
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Word Origin for splay

C14: short for display
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 splaying



"to spread out," early 14c., shortened form of desplayen (see display). Pp. adjective splayed "spread out" is attested from 1540s.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper