9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[sprawl] /sprɔl/
verb (used without object)
to be stretched or spread out in an unnatural or ungraceful manner:
The puppy's legs sprawled in all directions.
to sit or lie in a relaxed position with the limbs spread out carelessly or ungracefully:
He sprawled across the bed.
to spread out, extend, or be distributed in a straggling or irregular manner, as vines, buildings, handwriting, etc.
to crawl awkwardly with the aid of all the limbs; scramble.
verb (used with object)
to stretch out (the limbs) as in sprawling.
to spread out or distribute in a straggling manner.
the act or an instance of sprawling; a sprawling posture.
a straggling array of something.
Origin of sprawl
before 1000; Middle English spraulen to move awkwardly, Old English spreawlian; cognate with Frisian (N dial.) spraweli
Related forms
sprawler, noun
sprawlingly, adverb
3. straggle, branch. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for sprawling
  • sprawling blooms of cyanobacteria have swathed the surfaces of lakes and oceans around the world for billions of years.
  • It's a sprawling marsh and bog-prime bird habitat-with a spruce-tamarack forest and some prairie areas.
  • Lots of farms being converted to sprawling developments in areas that used to be way out in the boonies.
  • sprawling suburban areas differ from traditional cities in a number of important ways.
  • What replaces clunky, dangerous automobiles and toxic, sprawling asphalt roads is the exciting stuff.
  • After taking photos of the sprawling panorama, you will see a turquoise-bright sky that remains visible to the west.
  • What it got instead were sprawling subdivisions of cattle.
  • Varieties range from immense, sprawling century plants to dainty sedums with leaves no larger than grains of rice.
  • sprawling as it is, his output has unmistakable signatures.
  • Here's a look at the sprawling gray market that gets some high and others heated.
British Dictionary definitions for sprawling


(intransitive) to sit or lie in an ungainly manner with one's limbs spread out
to fall down or knock down with the limbs spread out in an ungainly way
to spread out or cause to spread out in a straggling fashion: his handwriting sprawled all over the paper
the act or an instance of sprawling
a sprawling posture or arrangement of items
  1. the urban area formed by the expansion of a town or city into surrounding countryside: the urban sprawl
  2. the process by which this has happened
Derived Forms
sprawler, noun
sprawly, adjective
Word Origin
Old English spreawlian; related to Old English spryttan to sprout, spurt, Greek speirein to scatter
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 sprawling



Old English spreawlian "move convulsively," with cognates in the Scandinavian languages and North Frisian spraweli, probably ultimately from PIE root *sper- "to strew" (see sprout (v.)). Meaning "to spread or stretch in a careless manner" is attested from 1540s; of things, from 1745. Related: Sprawled; sprawling.


1719, from sprawl (v.); meaning "straggling expansion of built-up districts into surrounding countryside" is from 1955.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for sprawling



Money; wealth

[1871+; fr the Hebrew name of a unit of weight and money]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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