General English


  • noun a set of allowed values between a maximum and minimum


  • The horizontal distance between supports.


  • The distance, interval, range, or other measure between two points, extremities, or limits. For instance, the span between the lowest and highest readings of an analog meter, or the dimensions between the ends of a component.

Information & Library Science

Origin & History of “span”

Span is of Germanic origin, with relatives in German and Dutch spanne, Swedish spann, and Danish spand. It originated in the notion of the distance between the tip of the thumb and the tip of the little finger. The verb span was derived in the 14th century from the noun. Its German relative spannen ‘stretch, tighten’ produced the derived noun spanner, which was borrowed by English in the 17th century.