- to be stretched or spread out in an unnatural or ungraceful manner: The puppy's legs sprawled in all directions.
- to sit or lie in a relaxed position with the limbs spread out carelessly or ungracefully: He sprawled across the bed.
- to spread out, extend, or be distributed in a straggling or irregular manner, as vines, buildings, handwriting, etc.
- to crawl awkwardly with the aid of all the limbs; scramble.
- 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.
Origin of sprawl
SynonymsSee more synonyms for sprawl on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for sprawl
Obama and the Democrats have embraced the argument that suburbs and sprawl are bad for you.The Progressives’ War on Suburbia
November 16, 2014
Auto factories tend to sprawl horizontally over huge lots, and have flat roofs.Charging Up
The Daily Beast
October 28, 2014
The goal, of course, is to facilitate ever more densification of urban areas and to rein in the dreaded suburban “sprawl.”Are Millennials Turning Their Backs on the American Dream?
November 10, 2013
I can sprawl on that seaweed and be as comfortable as a gull on a clam flat.Fair Harbor
Joseph Crosby Lincoln
Once aboard, he fell in a sprawl on the boat's bottom, breathing heavily.Owen Clancy's Happy Trail
Burt L. Standish
We'd go a few steps, y'u know, 'n' then sprawl all over oursel's.Tramping with Tramps
They wander about and sprawl in the shade of fine old trees.Little Tony of Italy
Keep your horse well in hand all through, that he may not sprawl.Riding for Ladies
Mrs. Power O'Donoghue
- (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
- the urban area formed by the expansion of a town or city into surrounding countrysidethe urban sprawl
- the process by which this has happened
Word Origin and History for sprawl
Old English spreawlian "move convulsively," with cognates in the Scandinavian languages and North Frisian spraweli, probably ultimately from PIE root *sper- "to strew" (see sprout (v.)). Meaning "to spread or stretch in a careless manner" is attested from 1540s; of things, from 1745. Related: Sprawled; sprawling.
1719, from sprawl (v.); meaning "straggling expansion of built-up districts into surrounding countryside" is from 1955.