spread: ​[transitive] spread something (out) to move your arms, legs, fingers, etc. far apart from each other

She spread her arms and the child ran towards her.

Ok, my toddler often spreads his legs so far out like this when sitting, which is not nice.

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I want to find a word that express the opposite. That word means "to move your arms, legs, fingers, etc. close to each other".

"fold up"? or "close"?

Can I say:

Please don't spread your legs so far out like that, fold them up?

  • While this is quite old, I just realize perhaps a better way to say this could be "keep your knees apart"
    – Matthew
    Mar 24, 2020 at 10:48

1 Answer 1



"Keep your legs closer (or close together)."

Keep your legs close together with your feet lightly touching each other. (Yoga Poses: Speedy Study Guides)


Don't keep your legs apart (like that). (Ludwig)


a) "Far apart" is mainly used in the exercise context as an instruction what to do: "Sit with legs far apart." and not to say what not to do: "Don't sit with legs far apart."

b) Saying: "Keep your legs together" or "closed." or "Don't spread your legs." or "Don't sit with your legs open." can have a strong sexual meaning.


For arms, it's better if you say: "Don't spread your arms." because "Keep your arms together." actually means "hands together."

Don't spread your arms so wide. (Celticlyricscorner.net)


Don't spread your fingers unnaturally to reach keys lying further out, but simply move your arm. (Rsipain.com)

Note: "Fold up" the legs, arms or fingers means bending them rather than keeping them together.

  • I would add I would avoid saying something like Keep your legs closed as it could be interrupted to have an underlining comment it.
    – Matthew
    Feb 6, 2020 at 11:45
  • @Matthew, I'm aware of this issue, so which version you think is least problematic? I guess, closer?
    – Jan
    Feb 6, 2020 at 11:47
  • @jen I'm honestly unsure, I think it's a good question because I don't have a good answer to the question myself, I think close together as you stated is good but was more for non-native English speakers to keep in mind about Keep your legs closed
    – Matthew
    Feb 6, 2020 at 11:52
  • what about "sit / stand with your legs wide apart"? does it sound sexually? oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/wide_2
    – Tom
    Feb 6, 2020 at 12:12
  • @Tom, "Wide apart" is much better than "wide open" in this regard.
    – Jan
    Feb 6, 2020 at 12:17

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