Etymology
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span (n.1)
"distance between two objects," from Old English span "distance between the thumb and little finger of an extended hand" (as a measure of length, roughly nine inches), probably related to Middle Dutch spannen "to join, fasten," from Proto-Germanic *spannan, from PIE root *(s)pen- "to draw, stretch, spin."

The Germanic word was borrowed into Medieval Latin as spannus, hence Italian spanna, Old French espan "hand's width, span as a unit of measure," French empan. As a measure of volume (early 14c.), "what can be held in two cupped hands." Meaning "length of time" first attested 1590s; that of "space between abutments of an arch, etc." is from 1725. Meaning "maximum lateral dimension of an aircraft" is first recorded 1909.
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span (n.2)
"two animals driven together," 1769, American English, from Dutch span, from spannen "to stretch or yoke," from Middle Dutch spannan, cognate with Old English spannan "to join," from Proto-Germanic *spannan, from PIE root *(s)pen- "to draw, stretch, spin." Also used in South African English.
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span (v.)
Old English spannan "to join, link, clasp, fasten, bind, connect; stretch, span," from Proto-Germanic *spannan (source also of Old Norse spenna, Old Frisian spanna, Middle Dutch spannen, Dutch spannan "stretch, bend, hoist, hitch," Old High German spannan, German spannen "to join, fasten, extend, connect"), from PIE root *(s)pen- "to draw, stretch, spin" (source also of spin (v.)).

The meaning "to encircle with the hand(s)" is from 1781; in the sense of "to form an arch over (something)" it is first recorded 1630s. Related: Spanned; spanning.
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time-span (n.)
also timespan, 1897, from time (n.) + span (n.1).
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spick-and-span (adj.)
also spic-and-span, 1660s, from spick-and-span-new (1570s), literally "new as a recently made spike and chip of wood," from spick "nail" (see spike (n.1)) + span-new "very new" (c. 1300), from Old Norse span-nyr, from spann "chip" (see spoon (n.)) + nyr "new." Imitation of Dutch spiksplinter nieuw "spike-splinter new."
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wingspan (n.)
also wing-span, 1894, from wing (n.) + span (n.1).
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lifespan (n.)
also life-span, 1918, from life (n.) + span (n.1).
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brand-new (adj.)

"quite new," 1560s, from brand (n.) + new. The notion is "new as a glowing metal fresh from the forge" (Shakespeare has fire-new; Middle English had span-neue "brand new," c. 1300, from Old Norse span-nyr, from span "chip of wood," perhaps as something likely to be new-made). Popularly bran-new.

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bridge (v.)
"build a bridge on or over, span with a bridge," Old English brycgian "to bridge, make a causeway," from bridge (n.). Figurative use by 1831. Related: Bridged; bridging.
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spado (n.)
"castrated person," early 15c., from Latin spado, from Greek spadix, related to spadon "eunuch," span "to draw, tear away" (see spay).
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