Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The extent or measure of space between two points or extremities, as of a bridge or roof; the breadth.
  • noun The distance between the tips of the wings of an airplane.
  • noun The section between two intermediate supports of a bridge.
  • noun Something, such as a railroad trestle or bridge, that extends from one point to another.
  • noun The distance from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the little finger when the hand is fully extended, formerly used as a unit of measure equal to about 9 inches (23 centimeters).
  • noun A period of time.
  • transitive verb To extend across in space or time.
  • transitive verb To encircle or cover with the hand or hands.
  • transitive verb To measure in spans.
  • noun Nautical A stretch of rope made fast at either end.
  • noun A pair of animals, such as oxen, matched as in size or color and driven as a team.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun An archaic pretorit of spin.
  • Wholly; entirely; freshly: as, my hands are span clean (sometimes spandy clean).
  • To harness (a horse, etc.) to a vehicle; inspan; furnish (a vehicle) with animals to draw (it).
  • noun In mathematics, the span of a region in any direction is the width of a strip which is bounded by lines perpendicular to that direction, contains every internal point of the region, and has on each of its bounding lines at least one boundary point of the region; and the upper limit of these spans of the region in every direction is called the span.
  • noun The full extent or course over which anything is stretched or prolonged; the space or time covered or included between terminal points; entire reach from end to end or from side to side: as, the span of life; the span of a bridge.
  • noun A part or division of something between terminal points: as, a bridge of ten spans.
  • noun Extent of stretch, physical or mental; distance over which anything may be extended; reach or grasp, as of the memory or of perception.
  • noun As a measure, originally, the extent between the tips of the thumb and little finger when stretched out: the oldest use of the word in English.
  • noun Figuratively, any short space or period'; a brief or limited extent or course; a relatively small measure of continuity.
  • noun The hand with the fingers outspread, as for measuring or for grasping a handful of something.
  • noun Nautical, a rope fastened at both ends so that a purchase may be hooked to its bight; also, a double rope having thimbles attached between its two parts, used as a fair-leader for ropes.
  • noun In the United States (from the original Dutch usage), a pair of horses or mules harnessed together; particularly, a pair of horses usually driven together, or matched for driving or work.
  • noun In South Africa, two or more yokes of oxen or bullocks attached to a wagon or a plow.
  • To stretch or spread out; extend in continuity; give extent to.
  • To stretch from side to side or from end to end of; extend over or across; continue through or over the extent of.
  • To make a stretch or reach along, over, or around; measure or cover the span of; grasp; specifically, to measure or encompass with the hand, the little finger and thumb being extended as far as possible: as, to span a stream with a log or a bridge; to span a person's wrist.
  • To cock by the use of a spanner, as a wheellock musket or pistol.
  • Nautical, to confine with ropes: as, to span the booms.
  • To shackle the legs of, as a horse; hobble.
  • To measure off or mark distances from point to point; make distinct stretches in going, as a span-worm or measuring-worm does.
  • To be matched for running in harness; form a span: as, the horses span well.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • imp. & p. p. of spin.
  • transitive verb To measure by the span of the hand with the fingers extended, or with the fingers encompassing the object
  • transitive verb To reach from one side of to the order; to stretch over as an arch.
  • transitive verb To fetter, as a horse; to hobble.
  • intransitive verb United States To be matched, as horses.
  • noun The space from the thumb to the end of the little finger when extended; nine inches; eighth of a fathom.
  • noun Hence, a small space or a brief portion of time.
  • noun The spread or extent of an arch between its abutments, or of a beam, girder, truss, roof, bridge, or the like, between its supports.
  • noun (Naut.) A rope having its ends made fast so that a purchase can be hooked to the bight; also, a rope made fast in the center so that both ends can be used.
  • noun A pair of horses or other animals driven together; usually, such a pair of horses when similar in color, form, and action.
  • noun (Naut.) blocks at the topmast and topgallant-mast heads, for the studding-sail halyards.
  • noun an old English child's game, in which one throws a counter on the ground, and another tries to hit it with his counter, or to get his counter so near it that he can span the space between them, and touch both the counters.
  • noun (Naut.) a special kind of harpoon, usually secured just below the gunwale of a whaleboat.
  • noun a common roof, having two slopes and one ridge, with eaves on both sides.
  • noun (Naut.) a large bolt driven through the forecastle deck, with a triangular shackle in the head to receive the heel of the old-fashioned fish davit.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The space from the thumb to the end of the little finger when extended; nine inches; eighth of a fathom.
  • noun Hence, a small space or a brief portion of time.

Etymologies

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

[Middle English, unit of measurement, from Old English spann; see (s)pen- in Indo-European roots.]

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

[Dutch, from spannen, to harness, from Middle Dutch; see (s)pen- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Old English spann

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Old English spannan

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

inflected form of spin

Examples

Comments

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  • Naps in reverse.

    July 22, 2007