- Span is the amount of area or the amount of time that something encompasses.
- An example of span is how long you live.
- An example of span is a house on three acres.
- a unit of linear measure equal to nine inches, based on the distance between the tips of the extended thumb and little finger
- the full amount or extent between any two limits
- the distance between ends or supports: the span of an arch
- the full duration (of): span of attention, the span of a person's life
- a part between two supports: a bridge of four spans
Origin of spanborrowed in U.S. < Du span, in same sense a team of two animals used together
Origin of spanMiddle English spanne ; from Old English sponn, akin to German spanne ; from Indo-European an unverified form (s)pen(d)-, to pull, draw (from source spin, Classical Greek span, to pull) ; from base an unverified form spe-, to pull, extend
transitive verbspanned, spanning
- to measure, esp. by the hand with the thumb and little finger extended
- to encircle with the hand or hands, in or as in measuring
- to extend, stretch, reach, or pass over or across: the bridge that spans the river
- to furnish with something that extends or stretches over: to span an aisle with an arch
Origin of spanME spannen < OE spannan, join: see span
- The extent or measure of space between two points or extremities, as of a bridge or roof; the breadth.
- The distance between the tips of the wings of an airplane.
- The section between two intermediate supports of a bridge.
- Something, such as a railroad trestle or bridge, that extends from one point to another.
- The distance from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the little finger when the hand is fully extended, formerly used as a unit of measure equal to about 9 inches (23 centimeters).
- A period of time: a span of life.
transitive verbspanned spanned, span·ning, spans
- To extend across in space or time: a bridge that spans the gorge; a career that spanned 40 years.
- To encircle or cover with the hand or hands.
- To measure in spans.
Origin of spanMiddle English, unit of measurement, from Old English spann; see (s)pen- in Indo-European roots.
- Nautical A stretch of rope made fast at either end.
- A pair of animals, such as oxen, matched as in size or color and driven as a team.
Origin of spanDutch, from spannen, to harness, from Middle Dutch; see (s)pen- in Indo-European roots.
- The space from the thumb to the end of the little finger when extended; nine inches; eighth of a fathom.
- Hence, a small space or a brief portion of time.
- The spread or extent of an arch or between its abutments, or of a beam, girder, truss, roof, bridge, or the like, between supports.
- The length of a cable, wire, rope, chain between two consecutive supports.
- (nautical) A rope having its ends made fast so that a purchase can be hooked to the bight; also, a rope made fast in the center so that both ends can be used.
- (mathematics) the space of all linear combinations of something
- attention span
- memory span
Old English spann
(third-person singular simple present spans, present participle spanning, simple past and past participle spanned)
- To traverse the distance between.
- The suspension bridge spanned the canyon as tenuously as one could imagine.
- To cover or extend over an area or time period.
- The parking lot spans three acres.
- The novel spans three centuries.
- World record! 5 GHz WiFi connection spans 189 miles. 
- To measure by the span of the hand with the fingers extended, or with the fingers encompassing the object.
- to span a space or distance; to span a cylinder
- (mathematics) to generate an entire space by means of linear combinations
- (intransitive, US, dated) To be matched, as horses.
- To fetter, as a horse; to hobble.
Old English spannan
- (archaic, nonstandard) Simple past tense of spin.
- naps, NSPA, pans, snap
inflected form of spin
span - Computer Definition