verb[no object, with adverbial]
- 1Sit, lie, or fall with one’s arms and legs spread out in an ungainly way: the door shot open, sending him sprawling across the pavement she lay sprawled on the bedMore 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’.
- 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 suburbsMore 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.
noun[usually in singular] Back to top
- 1.1A group or mass of something that has spread out in an untidy or irregular way: a sprawl of buildingsMore 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.
- 1.2 [mass noun] The disorganized and unattractive expansion of an urban or industrial area into the adjoining countryside: the growth of urban sprawlMore 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 about'. The noun dates from the early 18th century.