1 [span]
the distance between the tip of the thumb and the tip of the little finger when the hand is fully extended.
a unit of length corresponding to this distance, commonly taken as 9 inches (23 cm).
a distance, amount, piece, etc., of this length or of some small extent: a span of lace.
Civil Engineering, Architecture.
the distance between two supports of a structure.
the structure so supported.
the distance or space between two supports of a bridge.
the full extent, stretch, or reach of anything: a long span of memory.
Aeronautics. the distance between the wing tips of an airplane.
a limited space of time, as the term or period of living: Our span on earth is short.
Mathematics. the smallest subspace of a vector space that contains a given element or set of elements.
verb (used with object), spanned, spanning.
to measure by the hand with the thumb and little finger extended.
to encircle with the hand or hands, as the waist.
to extend over or across (a section of land, a river, etc.).
to provide with something that extends over: to span a river with a bridge.
to extend or reach over (space or time): a memory that spans 90 years.
Mathematics. to function (in a subspace of a vector space) as a span.
Archery. to bend (the bow) in preparation for shooting.

before 900; (noun) Middle English spanne, sponne, spayn, Old English span(n), spon(n); cognate with German Spanne, Dutch span, Old Norse spǫnn; (v.) Middle English spaynen, derivative of the noun Unabridged


2 [span]
a pair of horses or other animals harnessed and driven together.

1760–70, Americanism; < Dutch: team (of oxen, horses)

team. See pair.


3 [span]
verb Archaic.
a simple past tense of spin.



verb (used with object), spun or (Archaic) span, spun, spinning.
to make (yarn) by drawing out, twisting, and winding fibers: Pioneer women spun yarn on spinning wheels.
to form (the fibers of any material) into thread or yarn: The machine spins nylon thread.
(of spiders, silkworms, etc.) to produce (a thread, cobweb, gossamer, silk, etc.) by extruding from the body a long, slender filament of a natural viscous matter that hardens in the air.
to cause to turn around rapidly, as on an axis; twirl; whirl: to spin a coin on a table.
Informal. to play (phonograph records): a job spinning records on a radio show.
Metalworking. to shape (sheet metal) into a hollow, rounded form by pressure from a tool while rotating the metal on a lathe or wheel.
to produce, fabricate, or evolve in a manner suggestive of spinning thread: to spin a tale of sailing ships and bygone days.
Rocketry. to cause intentionally (a rocket or guided missile) to undergo a roll.
to draw out, protract, or prolong (often followed by out ): He spun the project out for over three years.
British. to flunk a student in an examination or a term's work.
Slang. to cause to have a particular bias; influence in a certain direction: His assignment was to spin the reporters after the president's speech.
verb (used without object), spun or (Archaic) span, spun, spinning.
to revolve or rotate rapidly, as the earth or a top.
to produce a thread from the body, as spiders or silkworms.
to produce yarn or thread by spinning.
to move, go, run, ride, or travel rapidly.
to have a sensation of whirling; reel: My head began to spin and I fainted.
to fish with a spinning or revolving bait.
the act of causing a spinning or whirling motion.
a spinning motion given to a ball, wheel, axle, or other object.
a downward movement or trend, especially one that is sudden, alarming, etc.: Steel prices went into a spin.
a rapid run, ride, drive, or the like, as for exercise or enjoyment: They went for a spin in the car.
Slang. a particular viewpoint or bias, especially in the media; slant: They tried to put a favorable spin on the news coverage of the controversial speech.
Also called tailspin, tail spin. Aeronautics. a maneuver in which an airplane descends in a vertical direction along a helical path of large pitch and small radius at an angle of attack greater than the critical angle, dangerous when not done intentionally or under control.
the act of intentionally causing a rocket or guided missile to undergo a roll.
a roll so caused.
Also called spin angular momentum. Physics. the intrinsic angular momentum characterizing each kind of elementary particle, having one of the values 0, 1/2, 1/3, … when measured in units of Planck's constant divided by 2π.
Australian. a run of luck; fate.
Verb phrases
spin off,
to create something new, as a company or assets, without detracting from or affecting the relative size or stability of the original: After the acquisition, the company was required to spin off about a third of its assets.
to derive from or base on something done previously: They took the character of the maid and spun off another TV series.
spin one's wheels. wheel ( def 27 ).
spin out, (of an automobile) to undergo a spinout.

before 900; Middle English spinnen to spin yarn, Old English spinnan; cognate with Dutch, German spinnen, Old Norse spinna, Gothic spinnan

spinnability, noun
spinnable, adjective
outspin, verb (used with object), outspun, outspinning.
unspinnable, adjective

7. develop, narrate, relate. 9. extend, lengthen. 11. gyrate. See turn. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To span
World English Dictionary
span1 (spæn)
1.  the interval, space, or distance between two points, such as the ends of a bridge or arch
2.  the complete duration or extent: the span of his life
3.  psychol the amount of material that can be processed in a single mental act: apprehension span; span of attention
4.  short for wingspan
5.  a unit of length based on the width of an expanded hand, usually taken as nine inches
vb , spans, spanning, spanned
6.  to stretch or extend across, over, or around
7.  to provide with something that extends across or around: to span a river with a bridge
8.  to measure or cover, esp with the extended hand
[Old English spann; related to Old Norse sponn, Old High German spanna]

span2 (spæn)
a team of horses or oxen, esp two matched animals
[C16 (in the sense: yoke): from Middle Dutch: something stretched, from spannen to stretch; see span1]

span3 (spæn)
archaic, dialect or a past tense of spin

abbreviation for

spin (spɪn)
vb (foll by along) , spins, spinning, spun
1.  to rotate or cause to rotate rapidly, as on an axis
2.  a.  to draw out and twist (natural fibres, as of silk or cotton) into a long continuous thread
 b.  to make such a thread or filament from (synthetic resins, etc), usually by forcing through a nozzle
3.  (of spiders, silkworms, etc) to form (webs, cocoons, etc) from a silky fibre exuded from the body
4.  (tr) to shape (metal) into a rounded form on a lathe
5.  informal (tr) to tell (a tale, story, etc) by drawing it out at great length (esp in the phrase spin a yarn)
6.  to bowl, pitch, hit, or kick (a ball) so that it rotates in the air and changes direction or speed on bouncing, or (of a ball) to be projected in this way
7.  (intr) (of wheels) to revolve rapidly without causing propulsion
8.  to cause (an aircraft) to dive in a spiral descent or (of an aircraft) to dive in a spiral descent
9.  to drive or travel swiftly
10.  (tr) Also: spin-dry to rotate (clothes) in a washing machine in order to extract surplus water
11.  (intr) to reel or grow dizzy, as from turning around: my head is spinning
12.  (intr) to fish by drawing a revolving lure through the water
13.  informal (intr) to present news or information in a way that creates a favourable impression
14.  a swift rotating motion; instance of spinning
15.  physics
 a.  the intrinsic angular momentum of an elementary particle or atomic nucleus, as distinguished from any angular momentum resulting from its motion
 b.  S, s a quantum number determining values of this angular momentum in units of the Dirac constant, having integral or half-integral values
16.  a condition of loss of control of an aircraft or an intentional flight manoeuvre in which the aircraft performs a continuous spiral descent because the angle of maximum lift is less than the angle of incidence
17.  a spinning motion imparted to a ball, etc
18.  (in skating) any of various movements involving spinning rapidly on the spot
19.  informal a short or fast drive, ride, etc, esp in a car, for pleasure
20.  informal chiefly (Brit) flat spin a state of agitation or confusion
21.  informal (Austral), (NZ) a period of time or an experience; chance or luck; fortune: a bad spin
22.  informal commerce a sudden downward trend in prices, values, etc
23.  informal the practice of presenting news or information in a way that creates a favourable impression
24.  informal on the spin one after another: they have lost two finals on the spin
[Old English spinnan; related to Old Norse spinna, Old High German spinnan to spin, Lithuanian pinu to braid]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

"distance between two objects," O.E. span "distance between the thumb and little finger of an extended hand," probably related to M.Du. spannen "to join, fasten" (see span (n.2)). The Gmc. word was borrowed into M.L. as spannus, hence It. spanna, O.Fr. espanne, Fr. empan. As
a measure of length, roughly nine inches. Meaning "length of time" first attested 1599; that of "space between abutments of an arch, etc." is from 1725. Meaning "maximum lateral dimension of an aircraft" is first recorded 1909. Attention span is recorded from 1922.

"two animals driven together," 1769, from Du. span, from spannen "to stretch or yoke," from M.Du. spannen, cognate with O.E. spannen "to join" (see span (v.)).

O.E. spinnan "draw out and twist fibers into thread," from P.Gmc. *spenwanan (cf. O.N., O.Fris. spinna, Dan. spinde, Du. spinnen, O.H.G. spinnan, Ger. spinnen, Goth. spinnan), from PIE *(s)pen- "stretch" (cf. Armenian henum "I weave," Gk. patos "garment, lit. "that which is spun," Lith. pinu "I plait,
braid," spandau "I spin," M.Welsh cy-ffiniden "spider;" see span (v.)). Sense of "to cause to turn rapidly" is from 1612; meaning "revolve, turn around rapidly" first recorded 1667. The noun meaning "fairly rapid ride" is from 1856. Meaning "attempt to influence reporters' minds after an event has taken place but before they have written about it" seems to have risen to popularity in the 1984 U.S. presidential campaign; e.g. spin doctor, first attested 1984. Spinning wheel is attested from 1404; spinning-jenny is from 1783 (see jenny); invented by James Hargreaves c.1764-7, patented 1770. Slang spin off (v.) is from 1957, from the noun phrase, which is first attested 1951, in a corporate sense.

O.E. spannen "to clasp, fasten, stretch, span," from P.Gmc. *spanwanan (cf. O.N. spenna, O.Fris. spanna, M.Du. spannen, O.H.G. spannan, Ger. spannen), from PIE base *(s)pen- "to draw, stretch, spin" (cf. L. pendere "to hang, to cause to hang," pondus "weight" (the weight of a thing measured by how much
it stretches a cord), pensare "to weigh, consider;" Gk. ponein "to toil;" Lith. spendziu "lay a snare;" O.C.S. peti "stretch, strain," pato "fetter," pina "I span;" O.E. spinnan "to spin;" for other cognates, see spin). The meaning "to encircle with the hand(s)" is from 1781; in the sense of "to form an arch over (something)" it is first recorded 1633. Spanner (1639), the British name for the wrench, is from Ger., originally a tool for winding the spring of a wheel-lock firearm
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
spin   (spĭn)  Pronunciation Key 
  1. The intrinsic angular momentum of a rigid body or particle, especially a subatomic particle. Also called spin angular momentum.

  2. The total angular momentum of a physical system, such as an electron orbital or an atomic nucleus.

  3. A quantum number expressing spin angular momentum; the actual angular momentum is a quantum number multiplied by Dirac's constant. Fermions have spin values that are integer multiples of 1/2 , while bosons have spin values that are integer multiples of 1.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Abbreviations & Acronyms
  1. Small Publishers of North America

  2. standard portfolio analysis of margin

The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


see spick and span.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
Attention span may be tested earlier, because this fundamental skill can
  influence the rest of the tests.
Eligible applicants will have worked on topics that span more than one
  discipline in humanities and social sciences.
To put it simply, he has the attention span of a goldfish.
Again, the idea is that applications can span both the public cloud and the
  private cloud.
Idioms & Phrases
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