- 1span something to last all through a period of time or to cover the whole of it His acting career spanned 55 years. Family photos spanning five generations were stolen.
- 2span something to include a large area or a lot of things The operation, which spanned nine countries, resulted in 200 arrests. His experience spanned not merely politics, but also business and journalism.
- 3span something to stretch right across something, from one side to the other synonym cross a series of bridges spanning the river The roof was spanned by curved ribs of steel. See related entries: Structures, Architectural features Word Origin Old English, ‘distance between the tips of the thumb and little finger’, of Germanic origin; reinforced in Middle English by Old French espan.
BrE BrE//spæn//; NAmE NAmE//spæn//Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they span
BrE BrE//spæn//; NAmE NAmE//spæn//he / she / it spans
BrE BrE//spænz//; NAmE NAmE//spænz//past simple spanned
BrE BrE//spænd//; NAmE NAmE//spænd//past participle spanned
BrE BrE//spænd//; NAmE NAmE//spænd//-ing form spanning
BrE BrE//ˈspænɪŋ//; NAmE NAmE//ˈspænɪŋ//Structures, Architectural features