What does sprawl mean?

Definitions for sprawl

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word sprawl.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. conurbation, urban sprawl, sprawlnoun

    an aggregation or continuous network of urban communities

  2. sprawl, sprawlingverb

    an ungainly posture with arms and legs spread about

  3. sprawlverb

    sit or lie with one's limbs spread out

  4. sprawl, straggleverb

    go, come, or spread in a rambling or irregular way

    "Branches straggling out quite far"


  1. sprawlnoun

    The position or state resulting from sprawling; as, he sat on the couch in a sprawl; uncontrolled urban sprawl.


  1. sprawlnoun

    An ungainly sprawling posture.

  2. sprawlnoun

    A straggling, haphazard growth, especially of housing on the edge of a city.

  3. sprawlverb

    To sit with the limbs spread out.

  4. sprawlverb

    To spread out in a disorderly fashion; to straggle.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. To Sprawlverb

    Etymology: spradle, Danish; spartelen, Dutch.

    Hang the child, that he may see it sprawl;
    A sight to vex the father’s soul. William Shakespeare.

    Some lie sprawling on the ground,
    With many a gash and bloody wound. Hudibras.

    The birds were not fledged; but upon sprawling and struggling to get clear of the flame, down they tumbled. Roger L'Estrange.

    Telamon hap’d to meet
    A rising root that held his fasten’d feet;
    So down he fell, whom sprawling on the ground,
    His brother from the wooden gyves unbound. Dryden.

    Hence, long before the child can crawl,
    He learns to kick, and wince, and sprawl. Matthew Prior.

    Did the stars do this feat once only, which gave beginning to human race? who were there then in the world, to observe the births of those first men, and calculate their nativities, as they sprawled out of ditches? Richard Bentley.

    He ran, he leapt into a flood,
    There sprawl’d a while, and scarce got out,
    All cover’d o’er with slime. Jonathan Swift.


  1. sprawl

    Sprawl refers to the spreading out of something over a large area in an irregular or untidy way. Most commonly, it is used to refer to the outward expansion of urban or suburban areas, often in an uncontrolled or unplanned manner. It encompasses developments such as housing, commercial centers, roads, and other infrastructures extending into rural lands. Additionally, it can also refer to the act or instance of sprawling or spreading out in an awkward or irregular manner, often physically.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Sprawlverb

    to spread and stretch the body or limbs carelessly in a horizontal position; to lie with the limbs stretched out ungracefully

  2. Sprawlverb

    to spread irregularly, as vines, plants, or tress; to spread ungracefully, as chirography

  3. Sprawlverb

    to move, when lying down, with awkward extension and motions of the limbs; to scramble in creeping

  4. Etymology: [OE. spraulen; cf. Sw. sprattla to sprawl, dial. Sw. spralla, Dan. spraelle, spraelde, D. spartelen, spertelen, to flounder, to struggle.]


  1. Sprawl

    A sprawl is a martial arts and wrestling term for a defensive technique that is done in response to certain takedown attempts, typically double or single leg takedown attempts. The sprawl is performed by scooting the legs backwards, so as to land on the upper back of the opponent attempting the takedown. The resultant position is also known as a sprawl or sprawling position. Ideally, the sprawling athlete should arch his back as much as possible and keep his knees off the mat. His options here including attempting to gain leverage on the lower back by hooking underneath the elbows; throwing in a headlock; and grabbing his opponent's ankles and trying to get behind his opponent. In mixed martial arts, sprawling is an important aspect of the sprawl-and-brawl tactic. Although the sprawl is favored among numerous wrestlers and mixed martial arts fighters, some practitioners prefer to use the technique called the 'down block'.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Sprawl

    sprawl, v.i. to toss or kick about the limbs: to stretch the body carelessly when lying: to spread ungracefully.—n. a sprawling posture.—n. Sprawl′er. [There is an A.S. spréawlian, to move convulsively; but the word is most probably for sprattle or sprottle—Sw. sprattla, to sprawl; cf. Dan. sprælle, to toss about the limbs.]

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  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of sprawl in Chaldean Numerology is: 5

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of sprawl in Pythagorean Numerology is: 8

Examples of sprawl in a Sentence

  1. Stefaan Poortman:

    Sites all over the world are under threat at any given moment. Apart from the monuments and ancient cities in the Middle East, I would say historic districts of major cities in Asia face the highest threat due to the unchecked sprawl and development, tourism is not regulated well enough and the massive influx is putting a strain on sites all over the world. The most well-known sites like Angkor or Machu Picchu are really swamped with tourism. Not only does it affect the sites but at a certain point, if unchecked, tourism can negatively impact the quality of life for local communities as well.

  2. Jim Ambrose:

    It's hard for people to wrap their head around what exactly is going on. It gets everywhere -- it's nothing but sprawl. It's not limited to the bedroom.

  3. Bellur Prabhakar:

    Social distancing in a country like India is going to be very, very challenging, we might be able to pull it off in urban areas, but in slums and areas of urban sprawl, I just don't see how it can be done.

  4. Jerry Shannon:

    Supermarkets became the most common source for grocery shopping during a time of rapid suburbanization, and their car-dependent large footprint format is designed for suburban sprawl, supermarkets were created with suburban residents in mind.

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Translations for sprawl

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • تمددArabic
  • grätschen, ausspreizenGerman
  • desparramoSpanish
  • retkotus, retkottaa, rehottaa, levitä, leviäminenFinnish
  • s'affaler, s'étaler, s'étendreFrench
  • stravaccarsiItalian
  • pukoniMāori
  • sprawlDutch
  • crăcănaRomanian
  • раскинуться, разрастание, раскидываться, растягиваться, разъехаться, простереться, разъезжаться, простираться, развалиться, растянутьсяRussian
  • spridningSwedish
  • yayılmaTurkish
  • 蔓生Chinese

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"sprawl." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 20 Jun 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/sprawl>.

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