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[spawn] /spɔn/
Zoology. the mass of eggs deposited by fishes, amphibians, mollusks, crustaceans, etc.
Mycology. the mycelium of mushrooms, especially of the species grown for the market.
a swarming brood; numerous progeny.
(used with a singular or plural verb) any person or thing regarded as the offspring of some stock, idea, etc.
verb (used without object)
to deposit eggs or sperm directly into the water, as fishes.
verb (used with object)
to produce (spawn).
to give birth to; give rise to:
His sudden disappearance spawned many rumors.
to produce in large number.
to plant with mycelium.
1350-1400; Middle English spawnen (v.), probably < Anglo-French espaundre (Old French espandre) to expand
Related forms
spawner, noun
unspawned, adjective
7. engender, generate, yield, beget. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for spawn
  • Friends in publishing think of those writers as the spawn of the devil, the evil seeds.
  • Salmon learn where to spawn from the smell of the water in which they grew up.
  • All attempts at definition simply spawn tautologies.
  • In certain seasons the smelt come in to spawn after high tide at particular times of the month.
  • Unless you work in a biology lab, get rid of things that can spawn mold.
  • But a reserve allows fish a refuge where they can increase in size and spawn.
  • The matter universe can be compared to the spawn of fish in the ocean.
  • Livable cities draw creative people, and creative people spawn jobs.
  • To add to all of this, it's an extremely political book, and it should spawn many interesting conversations.
  • The crunch has lasted long enough to spawn its own publishing mini-boom, as authors have raced to give their diagnoses in print.
British Dictionary definitions for spawn


the mass of eggs deposited by fish, amphibians, or molluscs
(often derogatory) offspring, product, or yield
(botany) the nontechnical name for mycelium
(of fish, amphibians, etc) to produce or deposit (eggs)
(often derogatory) (of people) to produce (offspring)
(transitive) to produce or engender
Derived Forms
spawner, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Anglo-Norman espaundre, from Old French spandre to spread out, expand
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 spawn
1413, from Anglo-Fr. espaundre, O.Fr. espandre "to spread out, pour out," from L. expandere (see expand). The notion is of a "spreading out" of fish eggs released in water. The meaning "to engender, give rise to" is attested from 1594. The noun is first recorded c.1430; fig. sense of "brood, offspring" is from 1590.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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spawn in Science
  1. The eggs of water animals such as fish, amphibians, and mollusks.

  2. Offspring produced in large numbers.

Verb  To lay eggs; produce spawn.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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spawn in Technology

operating system
To create a child process in a multitasking operating system. E.g. Unix's fork system call or one of the spawn() library routines provided by most MS-DOS, Novell NetWare and OS/2 C compilers - spawnl(), spawnle(), etc.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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