- 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 sprawling
A shot rang out as Brinsley took his own life, sprawling with the gun at his side.Two Cops ‘Assassinated’ in Brooklyn
December 21, 2014
He presides over a sprawling media and sports empire that spans from the Lakers to The Chronicles of Narnia.The Right-Wing Billionaire Who Bowed to North Korea over ‘The Interview’
December 19, 2014
Now, AIG was a huge, sprawling company, with lots of assets and decent insurance businesses, especially in Asia.Remember the $182 Billion AIG Bailout? It Just Wasn’t Generous Enough
October 15, 2014
Inherent Vice brings you a sprawling, unobstructed narrative, and then asks you to savor as much as you can.There Will Be Spliffs: ‘Inherent Vice’ Is a Bizarro Stoner Noir
October 5, 2014
Or have you delved into the sprawling waters of spin-offs, like Dating Naked, maybe?'SNL' Star Kate McKinnon's Big, 'Awesome,' Emmy-Nominated Year
August 19, 2014
I saw you sprawling on the floor, and blood gushing from your nostrils.Joseph Andrews Vol. 1
I sprang for the door, but the fire-log sent me sprawling with my shoulder on the threshold.The Cavalier
George Washington Cable
The master with his toe helped one sprawling puppy toward him.White Fang
"Quite an ovation," she cried, sprawling out of her first-class carriage.Where Angels Fear to Tread
E. M. Forster
In her big, sprawling handwriting the letter covered eight pages.The Wall Street Girl
Frederick Orin Bartlett
- (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 sprawling
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.