- 1The full extent of something from end to end; the amount of space that something covers: a warehouse with a clear span of 28 feetMore example sentences
- While a radiator has one relatively small hot area, the underfloor pipes range the full span of the floor, and this greater surface area mean that the pipes don't need to be as hot and the heat is more evenly spread.
- Concrete was the only material which could cover the huge spans of the rooms.
- Fifty-four feet high, the mill has sails that cover a seventy-foot span.
- 1.1The wingspan of an aircraft or a bird: the gannets had black-tipped wings with a six-foot spanMore example sentences
- Powerful wings spread a span of twenty feet and Jack had to step back to avoid being hit.
- Immense wings spread to more than the span of 2 metres in total length.
- The wings of the Tupolev-designed plane had a span of more than sixty metres, the same as a Boeing 747's.
- 1.2An arch or part of a bridge between piers or supports: a major setback was the collapse of one span of a flyover an eight-span bridgeMore example sentences
- Cast glass channels in extruded aluminum flames can be installed for long or tall spans without added supports.
- Next year will see the start of the five-year $3billion replacement of the eastern span of the Bay Bridge.
- In the pre-industrial age, the structural form that was used for the widest spans was the masonry vault or dome.
- 1.3 (also handspan) The maximum distance between the tips of the thumb and little finger, taken as the basis of a measurement equal to 9 inches.More example sentences
- He held out an arm to show how the end of the sleeve hung two handspans below his knuckles.
- A good rule of thumb when buying or constructing a flight cage for large parrots is that the width should be twice the wingspan, plus a handspan.
- Lang's handspan covers 12 notes on the piano keyboard.
- 2The length of time for which something lasts: a short concentration spanMore example sentences
- I didn't have an answer because I didn't know myself and thankfully her concentration span was lacking at that point.
- I silently thanked my short concentration span for tuning in for the first few minutes at least.
- These are people who've packed seemingly 10 lifetimes into one normal span.
verb (spans, spanning, spanned)Back to top
- 1 [with object] (Of a bridge, arch, etc.) extend from side to side of: the stream was spanned by a narrow bridgeMore example sentences
- We passed the occasional kamikaze truck driver hurtling down the narrow mountain roads; and forded green rivers that were spanned by metal bridges.
- The first branch was spanned with a bridge and the second with a ford.
- The path turned to cross a small stone bridge spanning a stream.
- 2Extend across (a period of time or a range of subjects): their interests span almost all the conventional disciplinesMore example sentences
- Fingerprints and facial appearance change over time, while iris texture remains unchanged for time periods spanning decades.
- Using a combination of classified ads and informal networks, they interviewed surrogate candidates over a period spanning several years.
- As every student knows, the period of American history spanning the years 1896 to 1913 is known as the Golden Age Of Zweibel.
Old English, 'distance between the tips of the thumb and little finger', of Germanic origin; reinforced in Middle English by Old French espan.
verb[with object] South African Back to top
mid 16th century (as a verb): from Dutch or Low German spannen. The noun (originally in nautical use) dates from the mid 18th century.