Definition of splay in English:



  • 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’
    • ‘Nicole splayed her fingers out over her abdomen, and closed her eyes.’
    • ‘He merely lifted a cautious hand and splayed the fingers out across Keithran's throat, tracing them over the dark bruises that circled it like a collar.’
    • ‘It moved along my arm, splaying my fingers against its palm then nuzzling my wrist.’
    • ‘To do so requires that their legs are splayed quite far apart in order for them to bring their head to ground level.’
    • ‘And I'm still dancing, but my arms are getting sore, held above my head, splayed little fingers drawing circles in the air.’
    • ‘In many of these collages, the nude female splays her legs while she wields a camera as if to return the gaze directed at her.’
    • ‘He sat down beside the redhead, grabbing his picking hand and splaying his fingers gently.’
    • ‘The legs are splayed and the figure is ‘caught’ in a semisplit position.’
    • ‘Then he moves closer to me and splays his fingers across my cheek, cupping it with a force that is both gentle and firm.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Sharma's feet were splayed, set apart from each other in disgrace, his work unfinished.’
    • ‘Her feathered, honey-blond hair is splayed around her, her lips are glossy, and her white halter dress and heels present a doll-like plasticity.’
    • ‘With three midwives, a doctor, my mother and Lucas in the room, my legs were splayed and my mind focused on staying calm and pushing (Dad and Natasha were outside waiting).’
    • ‘Then Tanjabar put his right hand out in front of him, splayed his fingers and, lo, green light issued out of his fingers joining together to form a horizontal green line.’
    • ‘Nan could not speak but splayed her fingers out, gazing at her nails to express her gratitude.’
    • ‘Its wings were splayed as if for flight, but they were not flapping.’
    • ‘One type of bird had a bit of an ungainly way of carrying itself in flight, splaying its legs out as it went and wobbling a bit.’
    • ‘They don't bash their heads against the divider - they just splay their fins and the little ruff around their neck, and stare challengingly at one another.’
    • ‘It was her gently splayed fingers that first drew my attention to her hands, long pallid fingers curving to knob-like ends.’
    • ‘She found them still pleasantly warm from the afternoon sun, and splayed her hands, letting the grains drift over her fingers.’
    spread, broaden, widen, get wider, expand
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1no object (especially of limbs or fingers) be thrust or spread out and apart.
      ‘his legs splayed out in front of him’
      • ‘His hands splayed open on his knees looking strong and capable to Maura.’
      • ‘She was finished rolling up and used her hands to brush loose crumbs from her lap, the fingers splaying and the palms resting gently on the swell of her stomach before sweeping down toward her knees.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He was a big influence on Michael Richards - when Kramer enters a room, his rubbery legs and arms splaying almost out of control, he's partially channeling Tati.’
      • ‘His fingers and toes splayed out, his tail arced, bracing for impact.’
      • ‘The bright yellow hair splayed out around him as his head rolled slightly.’
      • ‘The viewer sees over the shoulder of one woman, whose fingers splay emotionally in the fore-ground, to the others squatting on the ground.’
      • ‘It wrapped around the girls making their skirts ruffle and their hair splay over their faces.’
      • ‘Energy explodes from torsos, courses through limbs, and shoots out fingers splayed, reflexively, like a child's.’
      • ‘His fingers splayed over the clacker, and then he scrapped his fingernails over it, trying to move it further towards him.’
      • ‘Its legs splayed out, occasionally twitching, and its dead body quickly began to stink of rotting Scourge.’
      • ‘She smiled as her fingers splayed against the silk and lace creation as she held it against her pajama clad body.’
      • ‘But her long legs splayed out spread eagle, and her dress up to her waist.’
      • ‘His other hand reached around her back and his fingers splayed out against the soft, exposed skin of her hip.’
      fully extended, outstretched, stretched out, spread out, fanned out, splayed out, expanded, unfolded, unfurled, open, open wide, wide open, opened out
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2no object (of a thing) diverge in shape or position; become wider or more separated.
      ‘the river splayed out, deepening to become an estuary’
      • ‘Di Giorgio Martini's fortress walls splay outwards, down to the sea to repel marauding buccaneers.’
      • ‘Entrance is through a stout east-facing wooden door, beyond which the flagstone hallway splays three ways.’
      • ‘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.’
    3. 1.3usually 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’
      • ‘If you want to maximize the amount of light coming into the room, make the ceiling opening larger than the roof opening and connect them with a splayed light shaft; you can splay any or all shaft walls.’
      • ‘The splayed overhanging eastern wall of the bedroom above concatenates this diagonal tension, while the raised living area closes and holds the space back.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Its outwardly splayed north edge set against its concrete escape tower provides a vertical accent to balance the dominant horizontal.’
      • ‘Only about seven stories of the north tower were still in place, the girders splayed.’
      • ‘The jury singled it out for its spatial surprises, ‘including a splaying of demising walls to broaden exterior views.’’
      • ‘People who live on rural/semi-rural routes and have splayed entrances should leave the bin out where it is visible to the driver on approach.’


  • 1A tapered widening of a road at an intersection to increase visibility.

    • ‘One thing they did like was reducing the width of the splays at the entrance to side roads along Brickley Lane.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He said that to provide a satisfactory visibility splay the access would have to protrude into and take up virtually half the width of Wilcot Road.’
  • 2A surface making an oblique angle with another, such as the splayed side of a window or embrasure.

    • ‘The A’ Chailleach Fault is a splay of the steep part of the Ben More Thrust that propagated to the SE and forms part of a set of late, minor NW-SE-trending faults.’
    • ‘It is possible that the rotation of the dykes is associated with strike-slip splays curving from the tip of the active transform.’
    • ‘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 subsequent Late Griesbachian rift event involved faulting along splays of the basin-margin faults, causing fragmentation of the original wide blocks and intrabasinal fault-block rotation.’
    • ‘Beds of sandstone in splays represent multiple reactivation events and range in thickness from centimeters to more than a meter.’
    • ‘The high proportion of relief/abandoned channels and crevasse splays might therefore simply reflect the numerical abundance of these deposits containing plant fossils.’
    • ‘The north-south-striking fault zone splays show significant variations in the ages of exposed rocks juxtaposed across the faults.’
    • ‘Fluvial-dominated deltas have elongate bodies of channel sands enclosed in inter-channel muds and peats with their crevasse splays of sand produced when the river escapes from its channel in times of flood.’
    • ‘In Thailand, the metamorphic core complexes lie north of the Mae Ping Fault zone in the middle of the region of north-south and NE-SW splays.’
    • ‘Apart from the splay where the driveway meets Woodhill Lane the width of the current metalled surface of the driveway is a uniform 9 feet.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘To create the splay, the maker attached a thick block to the bottom of the chest, beveled its bottom to the desired angle, and screwed the leg to the block by means of a threaded dowel.’
    • ‘The matrix from Fish Hut above Dutch Gap is darker, organic-rich clay containing significant sand and mica, suggesting a crevasse splay, where sand was deposited on the floodplain after a levee break.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The presence of abundant fault splays, the along-strike changes in dip magnitude and direction, and the breadth of the fault zone may indicate a negative flower structure.’
    • ‘Adjacent to splays of the Picton Fault, mesoscopic kink and chevron folds are abundant in the schist, and its main foliation is locally overturned.’
    1. 2.1 The degree of bevel or slant of a surface.
      • ‘Negative splay thus increases and positive splay decreases the monolayer thickness.’
      • ‘We calculated the energy of splay and tilt deformations necessary to avoid such hydrophobic exposure.’
      • ‘The degree of splay is inconsistent even from leg to leg on the same chest.’
  • 3A splayed window aperture or other opening.


  • usually in combination Turned outward or widened.

    ‘the girls were sitting splay-legged’


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