[spred-ee-guh l]


having or suggesting the form of a spread eagle.
lying prone with arms and legs outstretched.
boastful or bombastic, especially in the display of patriotic or nationalistic pride in the U.S.

verb (used with object), spread-ea·gled, spread-ea·gling.

to stretch out (something) in the manner of a spread eagle.

verb (used without object), spread-ea·gled, spread-ea·gling.

to assume the position or perform the acrobatic figure of a spread eagle: The skater spread-eagled across the rink.

Nearby words

  1. spread like wildfire,
  2. spread oneself too thin,
  3. spread option,
  4. spread out,
  5. spread sampling,
  6. spread-eagleism,
  7. spreadable,
  8. spreadeagled,
  9. spreader,
  10. spreader beam

Origin of spread-eagle

First recorded in 1820–30

spread eagle


a representation of an eagle with outspread wings: used as an emblem of the U.S.
an acrobatic figure in skating performed by making a glide with the skates touching heel-to-heel in a straight line and with the arms outstretched.
an acrobatic stunt in ski jumping executed with the legs and arms widely outstretched to the sides.

Origin of spread eagle

First recorded in 1560–70

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

Examples from the Web for spread-eagle

British Dictionary definitions for spread-eagle


adjective Also: spread-eagled

lying or standing with arms and legs outstretched


to assume or cause to assume the shape of a spread eagle
(intr) skating to execute a spread eagle

spread eagle


the representation of an eagle with outstretched wings, used as an emblem of the US
an acrobatic skating figure
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 spread-eagle


literally "splayed eagle," 1560s, a heraldic term; the figure is that of the seal of the United States (hence spreadeagleism "extravagant laudation of the U.S.," 1858). Meaning "person secured with arms and legs stretched out" (originally to be flogged) is attested from 1785.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper