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From Middle English enlargen, from Old French enlargier, enlargir. By surface analysis, en- +‎ large.



enlarge (third-person singular simple present enlarges, present participle enlarging, simple past and past participle enlarged)

  1. (transitive) To make (something) larger.
    We'll need to enlarge our budget if we want to include the helicopter ride in our holiday.
  2. (intransitive) To grow larger.
  3. (transitive) To increase the capacity of; to expand; to give free scope or greater scope to; also, to dilate, as with joy, affection, etc.
    Knowledge enlarges the mind.
  4. (intransitive) To speak or write at length upon or on (some subject); expand; elaborate
  5. (archaic) To release; to set at large.
    • a. 1587, Philippe Sidnei [i.e., Philip Sidney], “(please specify the page number)”, in Fulke Greville, Matthew Gwinne, and John Florio, editors, The Countesse of Pembrokes Arcadia [The New Arcadia], London: [] [John Windet] for William Ponsonbie, published 1590, →OCLC; republished in Albert Feuillerat, editor, The Countesse of Pembrokes Arcadia (Cambridge English Classics: The Complete Works of Sir Philip Sidney; I), Cambridge, Cambridgeshire: University Press, 1912, →OCLC:
      Like a Lionesse lately enlarged.
    • 1596, Edmund Spenser, “Book IV, Canto VIII”, in The Faerie Queene. [], London: [] [John Wolfe] for William Ponsonbie, →OCLC:
      Finding no meanes how I might us enlarge, / But if that Dwarfe I could with me convay, / I lightly snatcht him up and with me bore away.
    • a. 1678 (date written), Isaac Barrow, “(please specify the chapter name or sermon number). Of Contentment”, in The Works of Dr. Isaac Barrow. [], volumes (please specify |volume=I to VII), London: A[braham] J[ohn] Valpy, [], published 1830–1831, →OCLC:
      It will enlarge us from all restraints.
    • 1599, William Shakespeare, “The Life of Henry the Fift”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act II, scene ii]:
      Uncle of Exeter, enlarge the man committed yesterday, that rail'd against our person. We consider it was excess of wine that set him on.
    • 1926, T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, New York: Anchor, published 1991, page 167:
      In hospital he gave his parole, and was enlarged after paying for the torn blanket.
    • 1953, Samuel Beckett, Watt, 1st American edition, New York, N.Y.: Grove Press, published 1959, →OCLC:
      In the morning, said Mr. Case, as soon as Mr. Gorman, or Mr. Nolan arrives, you will be let out, and free to come and go, as you please. Watt replied that that would indeed be something to look forward to, and a comfort to him during the night, the prospect of being enlarged, in the morning, by Mr. Gorman, or Mr. Nolan, and made free to come and go, as he listed.
  6. (nautical) To get more astern or parallel with the vessel's course; to draw aft; said of the wind.
  7. (law) To extend the time allowed for compliance with (an order or rule).
    • 1795, Charles Runnington, The History, Principles and Practice [] :
      the court would not take farther time to adjourn and deliberate, where the term was near spent, unless the parties would consent to enlarge it


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