Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “sprawl”

sprawl

verb uk   /sprɔːl/ us    /sprɑːl/ disapproving

sprawl verb (BODY)

[I] to spread the arms and legs out carelessly and untidily while sitting or lying down: I knocked into her in the corridor and sent her sprawling (= knocked her over).RecliningNot holding the body upright

sprawl verb (CITY)

[I usually + adv/prep] (especially of a city) to cover a large area of land with buildings that have been added at different times so that it looks untidy: The refugee camps sprawl across the landscape.Spreading and scattering
sprawled
adjective [after verb] uk   /sprɔːld/ us    /sprɑːld/
He was sprawled (out) on the floor.RecliningNot holding the body upright
sprawling
adjective uk   /ˈsprɔː.lɪŋ/ us    /ˈsprɑː-/
sprawling suburbsSpreading and scattering

sprawl

noun uk   /sprɔːl/ us    /sprɑːl/ disapproving

sprawl noun (BODY)

[U] a position with the arms and legs spread out carelessly and untidily while sitting or lying downRecliningNot holding the body uprightNot holding the body uprightReclining

sprawl noun (CITY)

[C usually singular] a large area of land covered with buildings that have been added at different times so that it looks untidy: the urban sprawl of South FloridaSpreading and scattering
(Definition of sprawl from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of sprawl?
Browse related topics

You are looking at an entry to do with Spreading and scattering, but you might be interested in these topics from the Giving and sharing topic area:

Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Definitions of “sprawl” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

knack

a skill or an ability to do something easily and well

Word of the Day

Blog

Read our blog about how the English language behaves.

Learn More

New Words

Find words and meanings that have just started to be used in English, and let us know what you think of them.

Learn More