Word Confusion: Extend versus Extent

Posted December 4, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

This is one of those word confusions which makes me so grateful for the extent of my reading as it extends over the years of my life. The more you read, the more gets embedded within your brain whether you try or not. It’s not a bad way to learn. I’ve certainly had fun!

I do intend to extend my reading over a few more decades, so I expect to extend the extent of my breadth of knowledge. And as authors, y’all owe your readers to, ahem, read more yourselves…think of it as part of your job *grin*…

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Extend Extent
Credit to: Dictionary.com: extend and extent

“Right-pointing Hand in Gree Octagon” by Hand: Gmaxwell. Octagon and combination: Anomie⚔.Anomie at en.wikipedia is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s the “polite” finger extended in this sign.

Color contour map shows extent of hurrican winds

“Extent of Hurricane Force Winds from Hurricane Ike” by Hurricane Research Division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Part of Grammar:
Verb 1, 2, intransitive & transitive

Third person present verb: extends
Past tense or past participle: extended
Gerund or present participle: extending

[Medicine] To straighten a limb

  • Bend

[Programming] To add features to a program, especially through the use of hooks

Verb, intransitive:
To be or become extended 1

  • Stretch out in length, duration, or in various or all directions

To reach, as to a particular point

To increase in length, area, scope, etc.

[Manège; of a horse] To come into an extended attitude

To reach a certain point in time or distance 2

Verb, transitive:
To stretch out 1

  • Draw out to the full length

To stretch, draw, or arrange in a given direction, or so as to reach a particular point, as a cord, wall, or line of troops

To stretch forth or hold out, as the arm or hand

To place at full length, especially horizontally, as the body or limbs

To increase the length or duration of; lengthen; prolong

To stretch out in various or all directions

  • Expand
  • Spread out in area

To enlarge the scope of, or make more comprehensive, as operations, influence, or meaning

To provide as an offer or grant

  • Offer
  • Grant
  • Give

[Finance] To postpone (the payment of a debt) beyond the time originally agreed upon

To increase the bulk or volume of, especially by adding an inexpensive or plentiful substance

[Bookkeeping] To transfer figures from one column to another

[Law; British] To assess or value

[Law] To make a seizure or levy upon, as land, by a writ of extent

[Manège] To bring a horse into an extended attitude

To exert (oneself) to an unusual degree

[Archaic] To exaggerate

[Obsolete] To take by seizure

The space, degree, or range to which a thing extends

  • Length, area, volume, or scope

Something extended, as a space

  • A particular length, area, or volume
  • Something having extension

[U.S. law] A writ, or a levy, by which a debtor’s lands are valued and transferred to the creditor, absolutely or for a term of years

[English law] A.k.a., writ of extent

  • A writ to recover debts of a record due to the crown, under which land, property, etc., may be seized
  • A seizure made under such a writ

[Logic] Extension

[Archaic] Assessment or valuation, as of land

We’ll have to extend that leg before we can cast it up.

We need to extend the functionality of that program.

Verb, intransitive:
The play extended its run for several years.

They extended their occupation to two adjacent convents.

Mounting research shows that optimism could extend your life.

The land extends five miles past the old barn.

Verb, transitive:
He extended the measuring tape as far as it would go.

Extend that line of soldiers past the woods and halfway through that ravine.

We should extend our visit a few days.

A huge tent was extended over the field.

The European powers extended their authority in Asia.

Lord Engel still doesn’t know the the extent of his lands.

One has to be right to a certain extent.

We’ll never know the extent of the damage.

the limitless extent of the skies

The constable delivered a writ of extent.

You can, to some extent, condition your plants and soil for cold weather.

The physical extent of land conversion for human activities is only part of the story, however.

They all knew who Freud was, but that was about the extent of their common knowledge.

Adjective: extendable, extendible, nonextendible
Noun: extendability, extendibility, nonextendibleness
Verb: preextend
Noun: preextent
History of the Word:
1 First known use: 1250-1300

Middle English extenden from the Latin extendere meaning to stretch out.

2 Late 13th century from Anglo-French estendre, Old French estendre meaning stretch out, extend, increase, from Latin extendere stretch out, from ex- meaning out + tendere meaning to stretch.

Early 14th century to value, assess.

Late 14th century to stretch out, lengthen.

First known use: 1250-1300

Middle English extente meaning assessment is from the Medieval Latin extenta, a noun use of the feminine of Latin extentus, a past participle of extendere meaning to extend.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

“Aerial view of vineyards at Markgräflerland” by Taxiarchos228’s own work is under the GFDL or CC BY 3.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons.