from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To increase the size, volume, quantity, or scope of; enlarge: expanded her store by adding a second room. See Synonyms at increase.
  • transitive v. To express at length or in detail; enlarge on: expanded his remarks afterward.
  • transitive v. To open (something) up or out; spread out: The bird expanded its wings and flew off.
  • transitive v. Mathematics To write (a quantity) as a sum of terms in an extended form.
  • intransitive v. To become greater in size, volume, quantity, or scope: Air expands when heated. This critic's influence is expanding.
  • intransitive v. To speak or write at length or in detail: expand on a favorite topic.
  • intransitive v. To open up or out; unfold: The chair expands to form a day bed.
  • intransitive v. To feel expansive.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To change (something) from a smaller form and/or size to a larger one.
  • v. To increase the extent, number, volume or scope of (something).
  • v. To express (something) at length and/or in detail.
  • v. (algebra) To rewrite (an expression) as a longer, yet equivalent sum of terms.
  • v. To (be) change(d) from a smaller form/size to a larger one.
  • v. To (be) increase(d) in extent, number, volume or scope.
  • v. To speak or write at length or in detail.
  • v. To feel generous or optimistic.
  • v. To be rewritten as a longer, yet equivalent sum of terms.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To become widely opened, spread apart, dilated, distended, or enlarged
  • transitive v. To lay open by extending; to open wide; to spread out; to diffuse.
  • transitive v. To cause the particles or parts of to spread themselves or stand apart, thus increasing bulk without addition of substance; to make to occupy more space; to dilate; to distend; to extend every way; to enlarge; -- opposed to contract
  • transitive v. To state in enlarged form; to develop. See Expansion, 5.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To spread or stretch out; unfold; display.
  • To increase in extent, size, bulk, or amount; inflate; distend; extend: as, to expand the chest by inspiration; heat expands all bodies.
  • Hence To make broader in scope or more comprehensive: as, to expand the heart or affections, or the sphere of benevolence.
  • To swell, blow up, fill, fill out, increase.
  • To open out; become unfolded, spread out, or displayed.
  • To increase in extent, size, bulk, amount, etc.; become dilated, distended, or enlarged.
  • In zoology, to spread over a certain space: used in stating the distance from tip to tip of outspread wings—in the case of insects, of anterior wings.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. make bigger or wider in size, volume, or quantity
  • v. exaggerate or make bigger
  • v. expand the influence of
  • v. grow vigorously
  • v. become larger in size or volume or quantity
  • v. extend in one or more directions
  • v. add details, as to an account or idea; clarify the meaning of and discourse in a learned way, usually in writing


Middle English expanden, to spread out, from Latin expandere : ex-, ex- + pandere, to spread; see petə- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Recorded in Middle English since 1422, from Anglo-Norman espaundre, from Latin expandere present active infinitive of expandō ("to spread out"), itself from ex- ("out, outwards") + pandō ("to spread"). (Wiktionary)



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