Definition of spawn in US English:



  • 1no object (of a fish, frog, mollusk, crustacean, etc.) release or deposit eggs.

    ‘the fish spawn among fine-leaved plants’
    with object ‘a large brood is spawned’
    • ‘Atlantic salmon spawn in October and November.’
    • ‘This large fish inhabits the Caspian and Black Seas, and it spawns in the rivers that constitute the drainage basins of these seas.’
    • ‘Males release more sperm when spawning with larger females.’
    • ‘Although they are terrestrial creatures, these crabs descend to the sea to spawn, and their larvae live in salt water for a time.’
    • ‘The female salmon spawns and then dies.’
    • ‘In the Delaware Bay area, the crab spawning population dropped from 1.2 million in 1990 to less than 500,000 in 1996.’
    • ‘Because of the way they spawn, and because of the way they recruit back onto the reef, there's really no way of reducing the population for more than one breeding season really.’
    • ‘A female may also spawn with the same male in temporally discrete bouts.’
    • ‘Large female pupfish can lay about 25 eggs per day and may spawn with different males each day.’
    • ‘The fish were spawning so the rivers were well stocked.’
    • ‘The males spawn with each female and exhibit no parental care - an extreme case of polygyny.’
    • ‘August is a good time to watch coral spawning.’
    • ‘Other males spawn with females in groups.’
    • ‘It spawns in the Indian Ocean south of Java and then migrates around Australia's southern coast.’
    • ‘They swim up river as far as 900 miles inland to spawn, then the young fish make their way back out to the open ocean where they mature.’
    • ‘Once one oyster begins spawning, the others, stimulated by the hormones released, also spawn.’
    • ‘Goldburg says cod and other fish may spawn inside cages.’
    • ‘This migration towards saltwater, in order to spawn, occurs in all catadromous species.’
    • ‘It Migrates from salt water into coastal rivers to spawn in spring.’
    • ‘Though some striped bass can spawn in fresh water and make their homes in salt water, there are many ‘stripers’ which remain landlocked.’
    1. 1.1be spawned (of a fish, frog, etc.) be laid as eggs.
    2. 1.2 (of a character or object in a video game) appear at a certain point in the game.
      ‘then they enter the undead land where defenders will spawn to fight against them’
      with object ‘players can spawn a ghost ship to confuse foes’
      • ‘These hard core rifts spawn waves of enemies that eventually culminate into a titanic boss, and anyone in the vicinity can jump into the fight.’
      • ‘He spawned clones of each party member that — if not quickly killed — would explode and deal 50,000 damage to the party.’
      • ‘You run through a tunnel, and come out in another, much smaller arena, with three massive tanks that spawn killer robots/aliens.’
      • ‘Encounters are triggered by locating magic portals, which spawn monsters and an occasional treasure chest.’
      • ‘Just before logging out, I noticed a level 60 Mage without a guild tag pulling newly spawned dwarves from the camp.’
      • ‘Some slain foes drop flags that can be adjusted to spawn warriors of their faction type at timed intervals.’
      • ‘If you see your team is mounting a heavy assault on an enemy base, spawn as infantry and rush in.’
      • ‘This provides the recently spawned player with a brief respite to get orientated with his or her surroundings.’
      • ‘This time around you'll be fighting several variations of soldiers, including one that shoots lightning bolts all over the battlefield that somehow spawns new enemies.’
      • ‘The original game had a so-called 'co-operative' mode that was nothing more than spawning human players in one area and having them defeat wave upon wave of aliens.’
  • 2derogatory with object (of a person) produce (offspring)

    ‘why had she married a man who could spawn a boy like that?’
    • ‘They asked me to leave and notified the Child Welfare department that if I should ever spawn a child, it should be taken from my custody right away.’
    • ‘A human half my age has spawned ten children who all have four or more of their own.’
    1. 2.1with object Produce or generate, especially in large numbers.
      ‘the decade spawned a bewildering variety of books on the forces’
      • ‘Despite this, White Teeth has already spawned its own genre.’
      • ‘They spawned a different breed of entrepreneur - part bootstrap, part innovator, part deal maker.’
      • ‘His prose has spawned many imitators, but few, if any, equals.’
      • ‘The only negative thing I can say about this song is that it might have the unfortunate side effect of spawning a league of yelling-guy-with-drums imitators.’
      • ‘The practice has even spawned a new industry: the customer relationship management space.’
      • ‘Nowlan's comic strip was widely popular, running for decades and spawning a host of imitators.’
      • ‘They spawned an entire generation of soccer moms cruising the American suburbs in SUVs.’
      • ‘Photocopying led to Xerox, which spawned a whole new industry.’
      • ‘Back in the '70s, The Omen was popular enough to spawn two sequels.’
      • ‘The original Popstars series spawned the band Hear'Say.’
      • ‘His ideas have led to many significant publications and have spawned numerous research efforts on many new frontiers.’
      • ‘The book spawned a series that has brought in more than $650 million and helped establish Christian fiction as a huge market.’
      • ‘But privatization would certainly spawn side effects in finance and business circles.’
      • ‘Men's blazers have taken on a life of their own and spawned a stylish breed of formal-turned-sporty jackets that go with virtually anything.’
      • ‘MTV spawned a legion of imitators but today its biggest battle is online.’
      • ‘Kitchen restorations are a boom industry, and are spawning a new breed of specialists.’
      • ‘The show has spawned numerous regional imitators, if not an entire alternate entertainment universe.’
      • ‘Combined, these influences appear to have spawned something that is far less original and entertaining as these artists.’
      • ‘They were pivotal films of the decade, and both have spawned a thousand and one imitators in their wake.’
      • ‘The film was a sleeper hit and even spawned a low-budget sequel.’
      give rise to, bring about, occasion, generate, engender, originate, lead to, result in, effect, induce, initiate, start, set off
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    2. 2.2Computing with object Generate (a dependent or subordinate computer process).
      • ‘There are probably other methods of taking an existing running program and spawning a root process that this module does not catch.’
      • ‘It moves to the background after spawning four processes.’
      • ‘In some cases, programs will spawn multiple processes of their own.’
      • ‘This spawns two processes: a terminal management process and a client process.’
      • ‘But even on Linux, spawning a new process can sometimes be a bit extreme.’


  • 1The eggs of fish, frogs, etc.

    ‘the fish covers its spawn with gravel’
    1. 1.1 The process of producing spawn.
  • 2derogatory The product or offspring of a person or place (used to express distaste or disgust)

    ‘the spawn of chaos: demons and sorcerers’
    • ‘Mom says infomercial hosts are spawn of the devil.’
    • ‘He was, without a doubt, the devil's evil spawn, sent down to earth to mess up the lives of innocent and simple girls.’
    • ‘She was like the wild, caffeinated, blonde spawn of Satan.’
    • ‘There was a flash of color in the demon spawn's cheeks.’
    children, sons and daughters, progeny, family, youngsters, babies, brood
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  • 3The mycelium of a fungus, especially a cultivated mushroom.

    • ‘They also sell organically certified shiitake mushroom spawn.’


Late Middle English: shortening of Anglo-Norman French espaundre ‘to shed roe’, variant of Old French espandre ‘pour out’, from Latin expandere ‘expand’.