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[spred-ee-guh l] /ˈsprɛdˌi gəl/
having or suggesting the form of a spread eagle.
lying prone with arms and legs outstretched.
boastful or bombastic, especially in the display of patriotic or nationalistic pride in the U.S.
verb (used with object), spread-eagled, spread-eagling.
to stretch out (something) in the manner of a spread eagle.
verb (used without object), spread-eagled, spread-eagling.
to assume the position or perform the acrobatic figure of a spread eagle:
The skater spread-eagled across the rink.
Origin of spread-eagle

spread eagle

a representation of an eagle with outspread wings: used as an emblem of the U.S.
an acrobatic figure in skating performed by making a glide with the skates touching heel-to-heel in a straight line and with the arms outstretched.
an acrobatic stunt in ski jumping executed with the legs and arms widely outstretched to the sides.
1560-70 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for spread-eagle
Historical Examples
  • Sallie became slowly transfixed in a spread-eagle attitude, with the half of a thin white egg-shell held up in each hand.

    The Stolen Singer Martha Idell Fletcher Bellinger
  • You can't leave your country without taking the spread-eagle with you!

    An American Girl Abroad Adeline Trafton
  • It has been on active service now since the year 1800, and I really think it's time our spread-eagle friends gave us a change.

    The Message Alec John Dawson
  • But if Emetic could not spread-eagle the field, she could set a pace that would try the stamina and lungs of Pegasus.

    Garrison's Finish W. B. M. Ferguson
  • No "spread-eagle" politician even conceived what will be sure to come.

  • As Lounsbury passed it, with his horse following pluckily in spread-eagle fashion, he shouted for Old Michael.

    The Plow-Woman Eleanor Gates
  • I landed sort of spread-eagle flat and seemed to hang there before I slid down the wall to the floor with a meaty-sounding Whump!

    Highways in Hiding George Oliver Smith
  • She thought mebby they'd have suthin' new, spread-eagle style, or suthin' of that kind.

    Sweet Cicely Josiah Allen's Wife: Marietta Holley
  • On the contrary his vision is often of the spread-eagle sort.

  • Therefore I'll instruct the lieutenants to spread-eagle every midshipman for twelve hours.

    No Defense, Complete Gilbert Parker
British Dictionary definitions for spread-eagle


lying or standing with arms and legs outstretched
to assume or cause to assume the shape of a spread eagle
(intransitive) (skating) to execute a spread eagle

spread eagle

the representation of an eagle with outstretched wings, used as an emblem of the US
an acrobatic skating figure
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 spread-eagle

literally "splayed eagle," 1560s, a heraldic term; the figure is that of the seal of the United States (hence spreadeagleism "extravagant laudation of the U.S.," 1858). Meaning "person secured with arms and legs stretched out" (originally to be flogged) is attested from 1785.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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