v. sprawled, sprawl·ing, sprawls
1. To sit or lie with the body and limbs spread out awkwardly.
2. To spread out in a straggling or disordered fashion: untidy tenements sprawling toward the river.
To cause to spread out in a straggling or disordered fashion.
1. A sprawling position or posture.
2. A usually disorderly or haphazard mass, array, or extension: a sprawl of outbuildings; urban sprawl.
[Middle English sprawlen, from Old English sprēawlian, to writhe; see sper- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.