Definition of splay in English:


Line breaks: splay
Pronunciation: /spleɪ


[with object]
  • 1Thrust or spread (things, especially limbs or fingers) out and apart: her hands were splayed across his broad shoulders he stood with his legs and arms splayed out
    More example sentences
    • Sharma's feet were splayed, set apart from each other in disgrace, his work unfinished.
    • His legs are splayed out, one stretching behind him in a straight line, the other knee bent and lying on something that seems to have broken his fall.
    • To do so requires that their legs are splayed quite far apart in order for them to bring their head to ground level.
  • 1.1 [no object] (Especially of limbs or fingers) be thrust or spread out and apart: his legs splayed out in front of him
    More example sentences
    • But her long legs splayed out spread eagle, and her dress up to her waist.
    • His fingers and toes splayed out, his tail arced, bracing for impact.
    • She bent her legs and wiggled her entire body in a jerky motion, flicking her long fingers outward, while her wooden silk hair splayed out around her as the crimson ribbon was lost.
  • 1.2 [no object] Become wider or more separated: the river splayed out, deepening to become an estuary
    More example sentences
    • Di Giorgio Martini's fortress walls splay outwards, down to the sea to repel marauding buccaneers.
    • The rear set of wings was almost nonexistent and the tail's ‘fin’ was beginning to lengthen in the middle while the sides splayed outward.
    • Entrance is through a stout east-facing wooden door, beyond which the flagstone hallway splays three ways.
  • 1.3 (usually as adjective splayed) Construct (a window, doorway, or other aperture) so that it diverges or is wider at one side of the wall than the other: the walls are pierced by splayed window openings
    More example sentences
    • The walls, built of coursed red stone, stand almost 4 m. high with two doorways and five splayed windows.
    • The main entrance to Hillyfields is now through an access set between splayed walls which are constructed across the disputed strip almost up to the edge of the metalled driveway.
    • The bands form a matrix for a mathematically calculated grid of deeply recessed and splayed bays each containing windows of different sizes.


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  • 1A tapered widening of a road at an intersection to increase visibility.
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    • There was an agreement between the county council and the firm that parking would be allowed on the access road in return for taking up a number of parking spaces in London Road for a visibility splay.
    • Butcher John Sumbler said that when Kelham Gardens was built a number of parking spaces in London Road were lost when a visibility splay for the new estate was provided as a highway requirement.
    • One thing they did like was reducing the width of the splays at the entrance to side roads along Brickley Lane.
  • 2A surface making an oblique angle with another, especially a splayed window or other aperture.
    More example sentences
    • The fault breaks into many splays near the surface, forming a flower structure, some strands of which show normal displacements and some of which show thrust and strike-slip displacements.
    • The Klima fault zone has been active since deposition of the Plio-Pleistocene Galini Formation through Holocene time as smaller-scale fault splays penetrate the modern, scree-covered surface.
    • Nevertheless, several clear and important trends of probable Tertiary faults are present on satellite images; in particular, the two NW-SE splays and a NNW-SSE trend marked a, b and c in Figure 5.
  • 2.1 [mass noun] The degree of bevel or slant of a surface.
    More example sentences
    • The degree of splay is inconsistent even from leg to leg on the same chest.
    • We calculated the energy of splay and tilt deformations necessary to avoid such hydrophobic exposure.
    • Negative splay thus increases and positive splay decreases the monolayer thickness.


[usually in combination] Back to top  
  • Turned outward or widened: the girls were sitting splay-legged


Middle English (in the sense 'unfold to view, display'): shortening of the verb display.

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