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


3 [span]
verb Archaic.
a simple past tense of spin. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To spanned
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

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
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. 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
Cite This Source
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.
Cite This Source
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.
Cite This Source
Related Words
Copyright © 2014, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature