use-icon

HOW TO USE THE DICTIONARY

Learn what the dictionary tells you about words.

Get Started Now!

Some compound words (like bus rapid transit, dog whistle, or identity theft) don’t appear on the drop-down list when you enter them into the search window. If a compound term doesn’t appear in the drop-down list, try entering the term into the search window and then hit the search button (instead of the “enter” key). Alternatively, begin searches for compound terms with a quotation mark.

use-icon

THE USAGE PANEL

The Usage Panel is a group of nearly 200 prominent scholars, creative writers, journalists, diplomats, and others in occupations requiring mastery of language. The Panelists are surveyed annually to gauge the acceptability of particular usages and grammatical constructions.

The Panelists

puzzle-icon

NEED HELP SOLVING A CROSSWORD PUZZLE?

Go to our Crossword Puzzle Solver and type in the letters that you know, and the Solver will produce a list of possible solutions.

open-icon

INTERESTED IN DICTIONARIES?

Check out the Dictionary Society of North America at http://www.dictionarysociety.com

open-icon

AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY APP

The new American Heritage Dictionary app is now available for iOS and Android.

scroll-icon

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:

Indo-European Roots

Semitic Roots

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.

open-icon

OPEN DICTIONARY PROJECT

Share your ideas for new words and new meanings of old words!

Start Sharing Now!

100-words-icon

See word lists from the best-selling 100 Words Series!

Find out more!

spring (sprĭng)
Share:
v. sprang (sprăng) or sprung (sprŭng), sprung, spring·ing, springs
v.intr.
1. To move upward or forward in a single quick motion or a series of such motions; leap: The goat sprang over the log.
2. To move suddenly, especially because of being resilient or moved by a spring: I let the branch spring forward. The door sprang shut.
3. To start doing something suddenly: The firefighters sprang into action.
4.
a. To appear or come into being quickly: New businesses are springing up rapidly.
b. To issue or emerge suddenly: A cry sprang from her lips. A thought springs to mind.
c. To arise from a source; develop: Their frustration springs from a misunderstanding. See Synonyms at stem1.
5. To extend or curve upward, as a rafter or arch.
6. To become warped, split, or cracked. Used of wood.
7. To move out of place; come loose, as parts of a mechanism.
8. Slang To buy something or pay an expense: He offered to spring for the dinner.
v.tr.
1. To cause to leap, dart, or come forth suddenly: The hound sprang a quail.
2. To release from a checked or inoperative position: spring a trap.
3. To present or disclose unexpectedly or suddenly: "He sprung on the world this novel approach to political journalism" (Curtis Wilkie).
4. Slang To cause to be released from prison or other confinement.
5.
a. To cause to warp, split, or crack, as a mast.
b. To have (a mast, for example) warp, split, or crack.
n.
1. An elastic device, such as a coil of wire, that regains its original shape after being compressed or extended.
2.
a. Elasticity; resilience: a mattress with a lot of spring.
b. Energetic bounce: a spring to one's step.
3. The act or an instance of jumping or leaping.
4. A usually rapid return to normal shape after removal of stress; recoil: the spring of a bow.
5. A small stream of water flowing naturally from the earth.
6. A source, beginning, or motive: "The giver herself may not be perfectly clear about the springs of her action" (Margaret Visser).
7.
a. The season of the year between winter and summer, during which the weather becomes warmer and plants revive, extending in the Northern Hemisphere from the vernal equinox to the summer solstice and popularly considered to include the months of March, April, and May. In the Southern Hemisphere austral spring includes September, October, and November.
b. A time of growth and renewal.
8. A warping, bending, or cracking, as that caused by excessive force.
9. Architecture The point at which an arch or vault rises from its support.
adj.
1. Of or acting like a spring; resilient.
2. Having or supported by springs: a spring mattress.
3.
a. Relating to or occurring in spring: spring showers; spring planting.
b. Grown during the season of spring: spring crops.
Idiom:
spring a leak
To start leaking suddenly: The boat sprang a leak. My balloon has sprung a leak.

[Middle English springen, from Old English springan. N., Middle English springe, from Old English spring, wellspring.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

This website is best viewed in Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Safari. Some characters in pronunciations and etymologies cannot be displayed properly in Internet Explorer.