• A bridge spans a steep-sided gorge
    A bridge spans a steep-sided gorge
  • WordNet 3.6
    • v span to cover or extend over an area or time period "Rivers traverse the valley floor", "The parking lot spans 3 acres","The novel spans three centuries"
    • n span the act of sitting or standing astride
    • n span a structure that allows people or vehicles to cross an obstacle such as a river or canal or railway etc.
    • n span the distance or interval between two points
    • n span a unit of length based on the width of the expanded human hand (usually taken as 9 inches)
    • n span two items of the same kind
    • n span the complete duration of something "the job was finished in the span of an hour"
    • ***

Additional illustrations & photos:

They had mounted to the high gallery that spans the space between pillar and pillar They had mounted to the high gallery that spans the space between pillar and pillar

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: During a typical human life span, the human heart will beat approximately 2.5 billion times
    • Span imp. & p. p. of Spin.
    • Span A pair of horses or other animals driven together; usually, such a pair of horses when similar in color, form, and action.
    • Span (Naut) 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.
    • Span Hence, a small space or a brief portion of time. "Yet not to earth's contracted span Thy goodness let me bound.""Life's but a span ; I'll every inch enjoy."
    • Span The space from the thumb to the end of the little finger when extended; nine inches; eighth of a fathom.
    • Span The spread or extent of an arch between its abutments, or of a beam, girder, truss, roof, bridge, or the like, between its supports.
    • v. i Span To be matched, as horses.
    • Span To fetter, as a horse; to hobble.
    • Span To measure by the span of the hand with the fingers extended, or with the fingers encompassing the object; as, to span a space or distance; to span a cylinder. "My right hand hath spanned the heavens."
    • Span To reach from one side of to the order; to stretch over as an arch. "The rivers were spanned by arches of solid masonry."
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
  • Interesting fact: On average, the life span of an American dollar bill is eighteen months
    • span To stretch or spread out; extend in continuity; give extent to.
    • span To stretch from side to side or from end to end of; extend over or across; continue through or over the extent of.
    • span To make a stretch or reach along, over, or around; measure or cover the span of; grasp; specifically, to measure or encompass with the hand, the little finger and thumb being extended as far as possible: as, to span a stream with a log or a bridge; to span a person's wrist.
    • span To cock by the use of a spanner, as a wheellock musket or pistol.
    • span Nautical, to confine with ropes: as, to span the booms.
    • span To shackle the legs of, as a horse; hobble.
    • span To measure off or mark distances from point to point; make distinct stretches in going, as a span-worm or measuring-worm does.
    • span To be matched for running in harness; form a span: as, the horses span well.
    • n span The full extent or course over which anything is stretched or prolonged; the space or time covered or included between terminal points; entire reach from end to end or from side to side: as, the span of life; the span of a bridge. As used of physical things, span is understood as the actual or net space or distance between bounding lines or surfaces; hence, the span of an arch is the length of the opening between the inner faces of it a abutments. Compare def. 2. Often used figuratively.
    • n span A part or division of something between terminal points: as, a bridge of ten spans. In this sense a span would comprise the distance from the middle line of one pier or support to that of the next, the whole number of spans including the entire length of the structure.
    • n span Extent of stretch, physical or mental; distance over which anything may be extended; reach or grasp, as of the memory or of perception.
    • n span As a measure, originally, the extent between the tips of the thumb and little finger when stretched out: the oldest use of the word in English. The span belongs to the system of long measure to which the cubit and fingerbreadth belong. It has always been considered as half a cubit, and still is so in several countries of Asia. The English span is 9 inches. The Swedish spann is an entirely different kind of measure.
    • n span Figuratively, any short space or period'; a brief or limited extent or course; a relatively small measure of continuity.
    • n span The hand with the fingers outspread, as for measuring or for grasping a handful of something.
    • n span Nautical, a rope fastened at both ends so that a purchase may be hooked to its bight; also, a double rope having thimbles attached between its two parts, used as a fair-leader for ropes.
    • n span In the United States (from the original Dutch usage), a pair of horses or mules harnessed together; particularly, a pair of horses usually driven together, or matched for driving or work.
    • n span In South Africa, two or more yokes of oxen or bullocks attached to a wagon or a plow. For a wagon the span may consist of from twelve to twenty animals, and for a plow of six or eight.
    • n span An archaic pretorit of spin.
    • span Wholly; entirely; freshly: as, my hands are span clean (sometimes spandy clean).
    • span To harness (a horse, etc.) to a vehicle; inspan; furnish (a vehicle) with animals to draw (it).
    • n span In mathematics, the span of a region in any direction is the width of a strip which is bounded by lines perpendicular to that direction, contains every internal point of the region, and has on each of its bounding lines at least one boundary point of the region; and the upper limit of these spans of the region in every direction is called the span.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: The average life span of a mosquito is two weeks
    • n Span span the space from the end of the thumb to the end of the little-finger when the fingers are extended: nine inches: the spread of an arch between its abutments: a space of time, the full duration of anything: extent of stretch, as the spread of a man's arms, in measuring trees, &c
    • v.t Span to measure by spans: to measure: to embrace:—pr.p. span′ning; pa.t. and pa.p. spanned
    • n Span span a yoke of horses or oxen.
    • adv Span span wholly—in Span′-new, Spick′-and-span.
    • ***


  • Laurence Sterne
    “A large volume of adventures may be grasped within this little span of life, by him who interests his heart in everything.”
  • Steven Spielberg
    Steven Spielberg
    “Only a generation of readers will span a generation of writers.”
  • Oliver Goldsmith
    “People seek within a short span of life to satisfy a thousand desires, each of which is insatiable.”
  • John Ball
    John Ball
    “When Adam delved and Eve span, who was then the gentleman?”


Spick and span - If a room is spick and span, it is very clean and tidy.


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
AS. pannan,; akin to D. & G. spannen, OHG. spannan, Sw. spänna, Dan. spænde, Icel. spenna, and perh. to Gr. to draw, to drag, L. spatium, space. √170. Cf. Spin (v. t.) Space Spasm


In literature:

Rivers must be bridged; mountains spanned; lines of communication maintained.
"The American Empire" by Scott Nearing
So at eleven o'clock a barouche was before the door, drawn by a span of dark horses.
"Scenes in the Hawaiian Islands and California" by Mary Evarts Anderson
The supply park (C) consisted solely of ox-wagons with spans of sixteen oxen.
"History of the War in South Africa 1899-1902 v. 1 (of 4)" by Frederick Maurice
Every span of earth is cultivated.
"Pilgrimage from the Alps to the Tiber" by James Aitken Wylie
It's hard to keep a house spick and span, with two active-bodied children running about it.
"The Prairie Child" by Arthur Stringer
The individual life span was short as compared to ours but the accelerated pace of their lives balanced it out.
"Inside John Barth" by William W. Stuart
With the first sink-and-lift Tharon had slipped back a full span.
"Tharon of Lost Valley" by Vingie E. Roe
Generally, structures of spans less than about eight feet are classed as culverts, but the practice is not uniform.
"American Rural Highways" by T. R. Agg
A narrow and unsteady plank spanned the immersed sidewalk.
"Dr. Sevier" by George W. Cable
The design of an ordinary short-span steel truss bridge, as ordinarily taught, is an example of this method of instruction.
"College Teaching" by Paul Klapper

In poetry:

"For in far back generations,
Here the tides majestic ran,
Till the cycles of creations
Dried them to a burning span.
"The Sea Shell On The Desert" by Ernest Jones
From childhood to youth's but a span,
And the years of our life are soon sped;
But the youth is no longer a youth, but a man,
When the first of his dreams is dead.
"Ghosts of Dreams" by William Herbert Carruth
Was this a dream? If it were not a dream
My life is blest in truth, and if it be,
I know across the deep has fallen a gleam,
A bridge of glory spans the twilight sea.
"Motives" by Marietta Holley
Brief the span is, counting the years of mortals,
Strange and sad; it passes, and then the bright earth,
Careless mother, gleaming with gold and azure,
Lovely with blossoms--
"Sapphics" by Archibald Lampman
His rainbow spans the heavenly blue;
His eye takes note of the drops of dew,
And the sunset's golden arrows;
And shall He not take thought of you,
O man, as well as the sparrows?
"In the Country" by Kate Seymour Maclean
Is it alone where freedom is,
Where God is God and man is man?
Doth he not claim a broader span
For the soul's love of home than this?
Oh yes! his fatherland must be
As the blue heaven wide and free!
"The Fatherland" by James Russell Lowell

In news:

Spanning the Water Quality Continuum – From Standards to TMDLs.
Hope Mohr Dance spans decades for its third home season.
The lower, shorter span will open up acres of land along the St Lawrence River.
All of these happened in a span of just 26 hours between Saturday night and Monday morning.
It spans 60-feet across the Row River.
CROWLEY – The Crowley Police Department either booked or cited 13 individuals due to various causes in a three day span last week, May 9-11, 2011.
The proposed bridge would span the Arkansas River opening the South County area to development.
C-SPAN VP Peter Kiley on the marketing— and misconceptions—of the public service network.
C-SPAN Networks VP Peter Kiley is a 20-year veteran of both C-SPAN and CTAM, including several years helping plan the latter’s annual conference.
That show, "44/40," spanned more than four decades of Grout 's work, from Vietnam to Africa, Plains Georgia, to Carroll County.
Scenery, history and folklore intertwine in 21 unique tours that span across the beaten paths of Appalachia.
Check out a video on YouTube where one gust of wind takes down three huge trees in the span of about.
Over a span of four decades, Durham's voice anchored the radio broadcast ship of 1,800 UNC-Chapel Hill football and men's basketball games.
A Congressional Gold Medal has been awarded to Michael E DeBakey, MD, whose medical career spans 60 years.
A Hibbing man has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $50,000 from a local Little League over a 10-year span.

In science:

E (z , s) = s(z) E : M × S → V , denote the evaluation map, and we say that S spans V if E is surjective, i.e., if {s(z) : s ∈ S } spans Vz for all z ∈ M .
Universality and scaling of zeros on symplectic manifolds
Thus, they span another su(2) algebra, not equivalent to the one spanned by the Hα .
Poincare' normal forms and simple compact Lie groups
That is, limq↓0 φp,q is a probability measure which selects, uniformly at random, a spanning tree of G; in other words, the limit measure is φ 1 2 ,1 conditioned on the resulting graph being a spanning tree.
The Random-Cluster Model
Then h0 = t0 ⊕ a0 , where t0 is the real span of {i(hα − hµ(α) ) : α ∈ ∆ − ∆µ}; and a0 is the real span of {hα : α ∈ ∆µ }∪ {hα + hµ(α) : α ∈ ∆ − ∆µ }.
On simple real Lie bialgebras
Let XI = span{xi : i ∈ I }; XJ = span{xj : j ∈ J }.
Classification of Banach Spaces --its Topological and Cardinality Properties