Main definitions of span in English

: span1span2span3span4

span1

noun

  • 1The full extent of something from end to end; the amount of space that something covers:

    ‘a warehouse with a clear span of 28 feet’
    • ‘The moon would peek out every now and then, but it was mostly hidden behind monstrous black clouds that stretched across the span of the sky.’
    • ‘Fifty-four feet high, the mill has sails that cover a seventy-foot span.’
    • ‘Hispanics dominate large portions of counties in a span of states stretching from California to Texas.’
    • ‘The span of the Pacific Ocean, covered in fog, hints at the approach of winter.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Her mouth seemed to spread the entire span of her head.’
    length, width, reach, stretch, spread, distance, compass, range
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    1. 1.1 The wingspan of an aircraft or a bird:
      ‘the gannets had black-tipped wings with a six-foot span’
      • ‘Immense wings spread to more than the span of 2 metres in total length.’
      • ‘Powerful wings spread a span of twenty feet and Jack had to step back to avoid being hit.’
      • ‘The wings of the Tupolev-designed plane had a span of more than sixty metres, the same as a Boeing 747's.’
      • ‘Their wings stretched to a massive span of six feet.’
      length, width, reach, stretch, spread, distance, compass, range
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 An 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 bridge’
      • ‘The bridge design is unpretentious. It consists simply of two steel towers supporting a lift span.’
      • ‘Without vaulting or trusses, Yemeni traditional architecture had to rely on the usable length of palm, acacia or tamarisk trunks for spans.’
      • ‘The raft had wedged itself up against the steel span of a collapsed bridge.’
      • ‘The new span's design reflects the graceful arch of Folsom's 1916 Rainbow Bridge just upstream.’
      • ‘But at the end of that year, on 28 December 1879, several spans collapsed in a severe storm while a train was crossing, sending 74 people to their deaths.’
      • ‘However, as the spans increase it is possible to lay the decking in the vertical position and widen the beam or joist spacing.’
      • ‘The Croatian bridge has a much smaller span, and does not have to rise for shipping, but its deck forms a real part of the spatial sequence of the city.’
      • ‘Bal reached the middle of the bridge where the huge span was missing.’
      • ‘Cast glass channels in extruded aluminum flames can be installed for long or tall spans without added supports.’
      • ‘Wrought iron greatly multiplied the possibilities of tension: much wider roof spans than those offered by timber alone were now possible.’
      • ‘In the pre-industrial age, the structural form that was used for the widest spans was the masonry vault or dome.’
      • ‘Pretension stiffens cables against deflection, and fabric or foil, also pre-tensioned, can be used between the cables to create very large spans.’
      • ‘More people die annually in Victoria on the road system, of which the West Gate Bridge is just one small span, than did in the accident that occurred during its construction in 1970.’
      • ‘Next year will see the start of the five-year $3billion replacement of the eastern span of the Bay Bridge.’
      • ‘Officials first tried to limit the number of pedestrians on the bridge, but when that did not seem to help they decided to close the span to allow engineers to study the problem.’
      • ‘Internally, the central span peaked on rounded trusses.’
      • ‘He opted for a double-curved, reinforced, thin concrete shell structure which permitted major spans, without deformation.’
      • ‘The pipe-arch structure, a large space frame, is perhaps the most economical design for the wide span.’
    3. 1.3 The maximum distance between the tips of the thumb and little finger, taken as the basis of a measurement equal to 9 inches.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He held out an arm to show how the end of the sleeve hung two handspans below his knuckles.’
  • 2The length of time for which something lasts:

    ‘a short concentration span’
    • ‘These are people who've packed seemingly 10 lifetimes into one normal span.’
    • ‘I silently thanked my short concentration span for tuning in for the first few minutes at least.’
    • ‘She talked constantly, wouldn't accept authority and had such a short span of attention that she'd probably wander off to make herself a coffee during the initial job interview.’
    • ‘His reign spans more than 40 years and it was during this time that a new civilization - a European civilization - came into existence.’
    • ‘The sky had opened up during the short span of time between my entering the lobby, picking up Rob, and going to leave again.’
    • ‘I have managed to find true friends within my short span, and I wish you the same sort of felicity.’
    • ‘I didn't have an answer because I didn't know myself and thankfully her concentration span was lacking at that point.’
    • ‘You are pregnant only for a short span of time my dear.’
    • ‘As you can see we managed to pull it off although I must say I've never before done a review in such a short span of time.’
    • ‘He had lost three important things in a short span of a day.’
    • ‘These are men who, within the short span of three weeks, brought life, hope and joy to a leper colony, simply by offering handshakes.’
    • ‘I had learned a life lesson in the short span in which he'd been missing, and I wasn't planning on forgetting it anytime soon.’
    • ‘The authors recorded more than 235 interviews over a span of ten years.’
    • ‘Suddenly, in the span of a few short years, forests had become ‘indispensable’ not only to support industrial growth but for the sake of national security.’
    • ‘In a short span, they were on the ground level, facing the door to the street.’
    • ‘His star-studded career spans more than 50 years.’
    • ‘In the span of 28 short minutes, the band races through 10 songs that are all maddeningly pleasant-sounding.’
    • ‘His recording career at the piano spans more than 40 years.’
    • ‘If you go back and look at the career of John Carpenter, you will find a remarkable string of artistic successes that stretched over a span of 12 years.’
    period, space, time, duration, stretch, course, interval, season, term
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    1. 2.1archaic A short distance or time.

verb

  • 1[with object] (of a bridge, arch, etc.) extend from side to side of:

    ‘the stream was spanned by a narrow bridge’
    • ‘The first branch was spanned with a bridge and the second with a ford.’
    • ‘It is the first Thames crossing to be built in more than a century and the first pedestrian bridge to span the river.’
    • ‘In addition to the bridge that spans a coastal landscape lined with seawalls, the city is circumscribed by walls and water.’
    • ‘If I get up from my office desk and walk across the room I can see in the distance the twin towers of the Severn Bridge spanning the Bristol Channel and behind them the first grey-green tracings of the landscape of Wales.’
    • ‘The path turned to cross a small stone bridge spanning a stream.’
    • ‘There was a causeway bridge which spanned the waterway a half a mile ahead.’
    • ‘So the university commissioned a pedestrian bridge to span a hazardous street, uniting the residential tower with the rest of campus.’
    • ‘A bridge spans the moat from the gently sloping walk to the house entrance.’
    • ‘One of the favorite sites in Schenectady, before it was torn down in 1874, was the covered bridge that spanned the Mohawk River.’
    • ‘According to a newspaper report, the first arch spanned the River Severn on 2nd July 1779.’
    • ‘Charles Bridge spans the river and the lower neighbourhoods on either side, which gives pedestrians a unique opportunity to peer into third-storey apartments.’
    • ‘I love the palace gardens, taking walks to the pagodas, over bridges spanning lakes full of koi carp and under cherry blossom trees.’
    • ‘Suspended some 300 feet above a ravine, the footbridge would span a quarter mile between two mountains.’
    • ‘Bridges spanning the Chicago River provided a compelling motif for several painters in the exhibition.’
    • ‘A bridge spanned the moat in front of the entrance.’
    • ‘The entrance to the mysterious footbridge spanning Eighth Avenue is blocked by yet another security checkpoint.’
    • ‘We passed the occasional kamikaze truck driver hurtling down the narrow mountain roads; and forded green rivers that were spanned by metal bridges.’
    • ‘An old wooden bridge spanned the gap that would allow us to head even further up the mountain.’
    • ‘Most people approach the museum across a bridge which spans railway and motorway.’
    • ‘The bridge spans the Lot river and offers a suggestion of French mediaeval military design.’
    bridge, cross, traverse, pass over, arch over, vault over
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    1. 1.1 Cover or enclose with the length of one's hand:
      ‘her waist was slender enough for him to span with his hands’
  • 2Extend across (a period of time or a range of subjects):

    ‘their interests span almost all the conventional disciplines’
    • ‘Three works by the Maestro spanning a twenty year period.’
    • ‘The calendar itself spans a year, but can be extended.’
    • ‘The defining dates of the style generally span the last decades of the eighteenth century through the first quarter of the nineteenth century.’
    • ‘As every student knows, the period of American history spanning the years 1896 to 1913 is known as the Golden Age Of Zweibel.’
    • ‘Using a combination of classified ads and informal networks, they interviewed surrogate candidates over a period spanning several years.’
    • ‘After a silent moment that seemed to span an eternity, she turned to him again.’
    • ‘A complete planning cycle should ideally span a period of about three to five years.’
    • ‘Their intricate work sometimes spanned decades.’
    • ‘Here, then is a festival of Woolrich films spanning seven decades and five countries.’
    • ‘In most cases, recovering money spent acquiring tech equipment will span several years.’
    • ‘The 464 black and white photographs taken between Spring 1982 and Fall 1993 span the period in which the Wall came down.’
    • ‘It's also interesting to note that this is one of the few episodes that spans an extended period, covering at least several months in the single hour.’
    • ‘Brokeback Mountain spans a time period of nearly twenty years.’
    • ‘Many stock analysts plot the daily net advances of the stock market in a graph that can span months or even years.’
    • ‘For mile after mile of the book, spanning month upon month of so-called ‘action’, there is nothing but prose.’
    • ‘There are seven American Girl dolls in all, spanning a period from the American Revolution to the Second World War.’
    • ‘These illustrations are no more than indications of a range of possibilities spanning several centuries.’
    • ‘The second volume spans the period from the Reformation to the railroads, which heralded Britain as the world's premier urban nation.’
    • ‘Hers was a career that spanned some seven decades and, most of all, a life well lived.’
    • ‘Fingerprints and facial appearance change over time, while iris texture remains unchanged for time periods spanning decades.’
    extend over, last, stretch across, spread over, cover, range over, comprise, compass
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Origin

Old English, ‘distance between the tips of the thumb and little finger’, of Germanic origin; reinforced in Middle English by Old French espan.

Pronunciation:

span

/span/

Main definitions of span in English

: span1span2span3span4

span2

noun

  • 1Nautical
    A rope with its ends fastened at different points to a spar or other object in order to provide a purchase.

  • 2A team of people or animals, in particular:

    1. 2.1North American A matched pair of horses, mules, or oxen.
    2. 2.2South African A team of two or more pairs of oxen.
    3. 2.3South African A work gang, especially of prisoners.
  • 3South African a spaninformal, dated A lot:

    ‘thanks a span’

verb

[WITH OBJECT]South African
  • Yoke (an animal):

    ‘he spanned his donkeys to the cart’

Origin

Mid 16th century (as a verb): from Dutch or Low German spannen. The noun (originally in nautical use) dates from the mid 18th century.

Pronunciation:

span

/span/

Main definitions of span in English

: span1span2span3span4

span3

adjective

Pronunciation:

span

/span/

Main definitions of span in English

: span1span2span3span4

span4

archaic

Pronunciation:

span

/span/