a kind of litter, often of canvas stretched on a frame, for carrying the sick, wounded, or dead.
a similar litter on wheels, adapted for use in ambulances and hospitals.
a person or thing that stretches.
any of various instruments for extending, widening, distending, etc.
a bar, beam, or fabricated material, serving as a tie or brace.
Masonry. a brick or stone laid in a wall so that its longer edge is exposed or parallel to the surface. Compare header ( def 5a ).
a simple wooden framework on which the canvas for an oil painting is stretched.
a framework connecting and bracing the legs of a piece of furniture.
one member of this framework.
a crosspiece that is set athwart and near the bottom in a small boat, and against which the feet of a rower are braced.
one of the thin, sliding rods connecting the canopy and handle of an umbrella.
verb (used with object)
to stretch (canvas for a painting) on a stretcher.

1375–1425; late Middle English stretcher. See stretch, -er1 Unabridged


verb (used with object)
to draw out or extend (oneself, a body, limbs, wings, etc.) to the full length or extent (often followed by out ): to stretch oneself out on the ground.
to hold out, reach forth, or extend (one's arm, head, etc.).
to extend, spread, or place (something) so as to reach from one point or place to another: to stretch a rope across a road.
to draw tight or taut: to stretch the strings of a violin.
to lengthen, widen, distend, or enlarge by tension: to stretch a rubber band.
to draw out, extend, or enlarge unduly: The jacket was stretched at the elbows.
to extend, force, or make serve beyond the normal or proper limits; strain: to stretch the imagination; to stretch the facts; to stretch food to feed extra guests; to stretch money to keep within a budget.
to extend or strain (oneself) to the utmost, as by intense exertion; tax.
to increase the quantity of (a beverage, food, paint, etc.) by dilution or admixing: They caught the bartender stretching the gin with water.
Radio and Television. to prolong or slow down (action or pace) in order not to end too early: to stretch a show; to stretch the action two minutes.
verb (used without object)
to recline at full length (usually followed by out ): to stretch out on a couch.
to extend the hand or to reach, as for something.
to extend over a distance or area or in a particular direction: The forest stretches for miles.
to extend in time: His memory stretches back to his early childhood.
to stretch oneself by extending the limbs and lengthening the muscles to the utmost: to stretch and yawn.
to become stretched, or admit of being stretched, to greater length, width, etc., as any elastic or ductile material.
Radio and Television. to reduce the pace or slow down the action of a radio or television program.
an act or instance of stretching.
the state of being stretched.
a continuous length, distance, tract, or expanse: a stretch of meadow.
Horse Racing. the backstretch or homestretch of a racetrack.
Baseball. a short windup, usually used to keep base runners from taking too long a lead, in which the pitcher starts the pitching motion with hands together at the waist, raises them to or above the head, brings them back to the waist, and, after a momentary pause, delivers the ball.
an extent in time; duration: for a stretch of ten years.
elasticity or capacity for extension.
Slang. a term of imprisonment: He's doing a stretch in the pen.
the act or fact of stretching or extending something beyond reasonable or proper limits: You wouldn't call her a genius by any stretch of the imagination. It's quite a stretch for me to believe his story.
(initial capital letter) a nickname for a tall, lanky person.
made of synthetic or composite yarn having a sufficiently low denier or having been subjected to any of several special mechanical treatments to permit increased elasticity: stretch girdle; stretch pants.
(of yarn) modified or twisted so as to afford high elasticity.
Also, stretched. of or pertaining to a conveyance, as a limousine or airliner, whose seating area is expanded to carry more passengers or afford greater legroom and to allow space for other comforts and amenities.

before 900; Middle English strecchen (v.), Old English streccan; cognate with Dutch strekken, German strecken; akin to Old English stræc firm, hard, Middle Dutch strac stiff. See stare, stark

stretchable, adjective
stretchability, noun
nonstretchable, adjective
prestretch, verb (used with object), noun
unstretchable, adjective
unstretched, adjective
well-stretched, adjective

5. See lengthen. 11. lie down. 20. range, reach, compass.

5, 16. shorten, shrink. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
stretch (strɛtʃ)
vb (often foll by out, forward, etc) (usually foll by over) (often foll by out)
1.  to draw out or extend or be drawn out or extended in length, area, etc
2.  to extend or be extended to an undue degree, esp so as to distort or lengthen permanently
3.  to extend (the limbs, body, etc)
4.  (tr) to reach or suspend (a rope, etc) from one place to another
5.  (tr) to draw tight; tighten
6.  to reach or hold (out); extend
7.  to extend in time: the course stretched over three months
8.  (intr; foll by for, over, etc) (of a region, etc) to extend in length or area
9.  (intr) (esp of a garment) to be capable of expanding, as to a larger size: socks that will stretch
10.  (tr) to put a great strain upon or extend to the limit
11.  to injure (a muscle, tendon, ligament, etc) by means of a strain or sprain
12.  to make do with (limited resources): to stretch one's budget
13.  informal (tr) to expand or elaborate (a story, etc) beyond what is credible or acceptable: that's stretching it a bit
14.  (tr; often passive) to extend, as to the limit of one's abilities or talents
15.  archaic, slang or to hang or be hanged by the neck
16.  stretch a point
 a.  to make a concession or exception not usually made
 b.  to exaggerate
17.  stretch one's legs to take a walk, esp after a period of inactivity
18.  the act of stretching or state of being stretched
19.  a large or continuous expanse or distance: a stretch of water
20.  extent in time, length, area, etc
21.  a.  capacity for being stretched, as in some garments
 b.  (as modifier): stretch pants
22.  horse racing the section or sections of a racecourse that are straight, esp the final straight section leading to the finishing line
23.  slang a term of imprisonment
24.  chiefly (Brit) at a stretch
 a.  with some difficulty; by making a special effort
 b.  if really necessary or in extreme circumstances
 c.  at one time
[Old English streccan; related to Old Frisian strekka, Old High German strecken; see straight, strake]

stretcher (ˈstrɛtʃə)
1.  a device for transporting the ill, wounded, or dead, consisting of a frame covered by canvas or other material
2.  a strengthening often decorative member joining the legs of a chair, table, etc
3.  the wooden frame on which canvas is stretched and fixed for oil painting
4.  a tie beam or brace used in a structural framework
5.  Compare header a brick or stone laid horizontally with its length parallel to the length of a wall
6.  rowing a fixed board across a boat on which an oarsman braces his feet
7.  (Austral), (NZ) a camp bed
8.  slang an exaggeration or lie
9.  to transport (a sick or injured person) on a stretcher

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. streccan, from P.Gmc. *strakjanan (cf. Dan. strække, Swed. sträcka, O.Fris. strekka, O.H.G. strecchan, M.L.G., M.Du., O.H.G., Ger. strecken "to stretch"), perhaps a variant of the root of stark, or else from PIE base *strenk- "tight, narrow; pull tight, twist"
(see strain). Meaning "to extend (the limbs or wings)" is from c.1200; that of "to lay out for burial" is from early 13c. To stretch one's legs "take a walk" is from c.1600. Meaning "to lengthen by force" first recorded late 14c.; figurative sense of "to enlarge beyond proper limits, exaggerate," is from 1553. Stretch limo first attested 1973. Stretch marks is attested from 1960. Stretcher "canvas frame for carrying the sick or wounded" is first attested 1845.

1540s, "act of stretching," from stretch (v.); meaning "unbroken continuance of some activity" is first recorded 1680s; meaning "straightaway of a race course" (e.g. home stretch) is recorded from 1841.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

stretcher stretch·er (strěch'ər)
A litter, usually of canvas stretched over a frame, used to transport the sick, wounded, or dead.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Example sentences
At one point they cross the path of a wounded general whose aides are carrying
  him on a stretcher.
Safe within the bridegroom's yard, the cabbage is taken from its stretcher and
  borne to the topmost peak of the house or barn.
They'll probably have to tie him to a stretcher attached to two long poles and
  pull him behind an ox.
For the next two hours, the scientists took blood and fat samples and weighed
  the bears using a stretcher and pulley.
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