Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Financial, Encyclopedia.
1. adjective Scattered, sprawled, or distributed across a wide area. I think having all of the evidence spread out in front of us will help us wrap our heads around this case. The houses are too spread out in this are for there to be a real sense of community.
2. verb To be or become scattered, sprawled, or distributed across a wide area. You're all so close together—why don't you spread out a little bit. The water began spreading out across the surface of the floor.
3. verb To scatter, sprawled, or distribute someone or something across a wide surface area. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "spread" and "out." We need to spread our players out a bit more on the field. Be sure to spread out the paint evenly so that there aren't any blotches.
4. verb To disperse or distribute someone or something across a wide region. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "spread" and "out." We've spread our volunteers out to every part of the country in an effort to get our candidate elected. If you spread out your resources too thinly, then you'll do a lot of things poorly, rather than doing one or two things very well.
5. verb To extend or enlarge to a fuller length or width; to stretch out. As the city spreads out into the suburbs, public transportation becomes less common and less reliable. The fish can spread out to nearly twice its size to scare off predators.
6. verb To cause something extend or enlarge to a fuller length or width; to stretch something out. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "spread" and "out." The bird is able to spread its wings out to nearly six feet in length. I can spread out this futon for you if you want to spend the night.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
spread something out
to open, unfold, or lay something over a wider area. Spread the wet papers out so they will dry. She spread out the papers to dry them.
to separate and distribute over a wide area. The sheriff told the members of the posse to spread out and continue their search. The wine spread out and stained a large area of the carpet.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
1. To open something to a fuller extent or width; stretch something out: The bat spread out its wings and flew through the cave. We spread the blanket out and sat down for a picnic.
2. To be extended or enlarged: The butter spread out across the pan as it melted. The bird's wings spread out to a span of ten feet.
3. To make wider the gap between some things or people; move some things or people farther apart: Your hand can cover the hole if you spread out your fingers. The instructor spread the dancers out across the floor.
4. To become distributed or widely dispersed: The cracks spread out across the windshield. We spread out to search the field.
5. To distribute something over a surface in a layer: The chef spread out the frosting with a spatula. Start by applying a splotch of paint to the wall, and spread it out with a fine brush.
6. To make a wide or extensive arrangement of something: The magician spread out the cards and asked us to choose one. We spread the bicycle parts out on the floor.
7. To be exhibited, displayed, or visible in broad or full extent: The prairie spread out in front of the pioneers.
8. To display the full extent of something. Used in the passive: The vast landscape was spread out before us.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.