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[lengk-thuh n, leng-, len-] /ˈlɛŋk θən, ˈlɛŋ-, ˈlɛn-/
verb (used with object)
to make longer; make greater in length.
verb (used without object)
to become greater in length; grow long or longer.
Origin of lengthen
1490-1500; length + -en1
Related forms
lengthener, noun
outlengthen, verb (used with object)
unlengthened, adjective
1. elongate, draw out. Lengthen, extend, stretch, prolong, protract agree in the idea of making longer. To lengthen is to make longer, either in a material or an immaterial sense: to lengthen a dress. To extend is to lengthen beyond some original point or so as to reach a certain point: to extend a railway line by a hundred miles. To stretch is primarily to lengthen by drawing or tension: to stretch a rubber band. Both prolong and protract mean especially to lengthen in time, and therefore apply to intangibles. To prolong is to continue beyond the desired, estimated, or allotted time: to prolong an interview. To protract is to draw out to undue length or to be slow in coming to a conclusion: to protract a discussion.
1. shorten. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for lengthen
  • It can lengthen to reach the far corners of the sink.
  • Cancers cells do lengthen their telomeres to survive and thrive, but those are not normal cells and are already cancer cells.
  • All that will do is burn your lips and lengthen the time it takes for the now-brewed tea to be drinkable.
  • The key is that you're using your adductor or inner thigh muscles to properly lengthen the abductors.
  • As wars lengthen, toll on military families mounts.
  • In return, the government promised not to ask the court to lengthen his prison term.
  • Expeditions usually last from six to twelve weeks, but volunteers can lengthen their stay.
  • More layoffs are expected as struggling airlines shed airplanes, lengthen work days and outsource jobs.
  • As the days rapidly lengthen and the sun climbs higher in the sky, a surplus is becoming the norm.
  • Although telomeres usually shorten with age, they can lengthen through the action of an enzyme called telomerase.
British Dictionary definitions for lengthen


/ˈlɛŋkθən; ˈlɛŋθən/
to make or become longer
Derived Forms
lengthener, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for lengthen

late 14c., from length + -en (1). Related: Lengthened; lengthening. Earlier verb was simply length (c.1300).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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