[ sprawl ]
/ sprɔl /

verb (used without object)

verb (used with object)

to stretch out (the limbs) as in sprawling.
to spread out or distribute in a straggling manner.


the act or an instance of sprawling; a sprawling posture.
a straggling array of something.

Nearby words

  1. spraint,
  2. sprang,
  3. sprat,
  4. spratly islands,
  5. sprattle,
  6. sprawled,
  7. sprawly,
  8. spray,
  9. spray can,
  10. spray gun

Origin of sprawl

before 1000; Middle English spraulen to move awkwardly, Old English spreawlian; cognate with Frisian (N dial.) spraweli

Related formssprawl·er, nounsprawl·ing·ly, adverb

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

Examples from the Web for sprawl

British Dictionary definitions for sprawl


/ (sprɔːl) /


(intr) to sit or lie in an ungainly manner with one's limbs spread out
to fall down or knock down with the limbs spread out in an ungainly way
to spread out or cause to spread out in a straggling fashionhis handwriting sprawled all over the paper


the act or an instance of sprawling
a sprawling posture or arrangement of items
  1. the urban area formed by the expansion of a town or city into surrounding countrysidethe urban sprawl
  2. the process by which this has happened
Derived Formssprawler, nounsprawly, adjective

Word Origin for sprawl

Old English spreawlian; related to Old English spryttan to sprout, spurt, Greek speirein to scatter

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 sprawl
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper