Definition of sprawl in English:


Syllabification: sprawl
Pronunciation: /sprôl


[no object]
1Sit, lie, or fall with one’s arms and legs spread out in an ungainly or awkward way: the door shot open, sending him sprawling across the pavement she lay sprawled on the bed
More example sentences
  • A second corpse already lay sprawled at the policeman's boots.
  • Out on the desert white figures lay sprawled dead and dying.
  • The story ends with both lying together sprawled on a bed, as ‘Figures, waiting to be arranged’.
stretch out, lounge, loll, lie, recline, drape oneself, slump, flop, slouch
1.1Spread out over a large area in an untidy or irregular way: the town sprawled along several miles of cliff top (as adjective sprawling) the sprawling suburbs
More example sentences
  • Claiming that Sarah Ferguson comes from Basingstoke is pushing it: she grew up on the 876-acre family farm at Dummer, safely south of the M3, gentility's bulwark against the town which sprawls along the motorway's north side.
  • The towns sprawled out of control, while rural mediocrity fed on itself.
  • Along with the traffic, a city sprawling in all directions and surrounded by mountains, pollution is visible everyday.
spread, stretch, extend, be strung out, be scattered, straggle, spill


[usually in singular] Back to top  
1An ungainly or carelessly relaxed position in which one’s arms and legs are spread out: she fell into a sort of luxurious sprawl
1.1A group or mass of something that has spread out in an untidy or irregular way: a sprawl of buildings
More example sentences
  • Long treated as a back, it was full of coal stores and junk, and cluttered with a sprawl of buildings added piecemeal over the years.
  • The designer goods are in there, but they must be ferreted out of mass quantities stacked on undifferentiated shelves in an encompassing sprawl.
  • The major inheritance of the Community Councils was vast sprawls of low-quality township housing; rents were a major source of income.
1.2The expansion of an urban or industrial area into the adjoining countryside in a way perceived to be disorganized and unattractive: the growth of urban sprawl
More example sentences
  • Many architecture critics go beyond opinion about the aesthetics of individual buildings, including reporting on sprawl and urban development.
  • Urban sprawl is taxing the city's infrastructure; local authorities have identified some $3 billion in much-needed transportation improvements.
  • Urban sprawl and chaos create many planning problems.


Old English spreawlian 'move the limbs convulsively'; related to Danish sprælle 'kick or splash around'. The noun dates from the early 18th century.



More example sentences
  • The first thing one remarks of Paul Manes' paintings of sprawlingly rendered stacked bowls is the complex sensuousness of their surfaces.

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Pronunciation: ˈdeɪktɪk
denoting a word whose meaning depends on context...