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[strech] /strɛtʃ/
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 relating 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
Related forms
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. 2015.
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Examples from the web for stretching
  • Look into the air and you shall see him walking in the clouds, out-stretching his arms in the lightning and descending in rain.
  • When that happens, the heart works harder, expanding to keep up its pumping ability and stretching its walls thin.
  • Using this principle for any thing that involves intangibles may be stretching it a bit too far.
  • Frank sat in a chair and pondered the genius of the stretching rack.
  • Training resumed slowly, starting with a lot of stretching exercises.
  • To understand that property, imagine stretching a rubber band around the surface of a ball.
  • But is stretching the truth a defining quality, or are his lies isolated lapses that can.
  • stretching subjects' mouths backward had no effect, implying a position-specific response.
  • If a muscle's hyperexcitability is the basis of cramping, then stretching should attenuate the response.
  • And we're stretching our supplies to the breaking point.
British Dictionary definitions for stretching


to draw out or extend or be drawn out or extended in length, area, etc
to extend or be extended to an undue degree, esp so as to distort or lengthen permanently
to extend (the limbs, body, etc)
(transitive) to reach or suspend (a rope, etc) from one place to another
(transitive) to draw tight; tighten
often foll by out, forward, etc. to reach or hold (out); extend
(intransitive) usually foll by over. to extend in time: the course stretched over three months
(intransitive; foll by for, over, etc) (of a region, etc) to extend in length or area
(intransitive) (esp of a garment) to be capable of expanding, as to a larger size: socks that will stretch
(transitive) to put a great strain upon or extend to the limit
to injure (a muscle, tendon, ligament, etc) by means of a strain or sprain
(transitive) often foll by out. to make do with (limited resources): to stretch one's budget
(transitive) (informal) to expand or elaborate (a story, etc) beyond what is credible or acceptable: that's stretching it a bit
(transitive; often passive) to extend, as to the limit of one's abilities or talents
(archaic or slang) to hang or be hanged by the neck
stretch a point
  1. to make a concession or exception not usually made
  2. to exaggerate
stretch one's legs, to take a walk, esp after a period of inactivity
the act of stretching or state of being stretched
a large or continuous expanse or distance: a stretch of water
extent in time, length, area, etc
  1. capacity for being stretched, as in some garments
  2. (as modifier): stretch pants
(horse racing) the section or sections of a racecourse that are straight, esp the final straight section leading to the finishing line
(slang) a term of imprisonment
(mainly Brit) at a stretch
  1. with some difficulty; by making a special effort
  2. if really necessary or in extreme circumstances
  3. at one time
Derived Forms
stretchable, adjective
stretchability, noun
Word Origin
Old English streccan; related to Old Frisian strekka, Old High German strecken; see straight, strake
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for stretching



Old English streccan, from Proto-Germanic *strakjanan (cf. Danish strække, Swedish sträcka, Old Frisian strekka, Old High German strecchan, Middle Low German, Middle Dutch, Old High German, German strecken "to stretch"), perhaps a variant of the root of stark, or else from PIE root *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 1550s. 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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Slang definitions & phrases for stretching


adj,adj phr

Suffering from nervous stress: I'm sorry. I'm just very stressed/ He had to take a two-week leave because he was completely stressed out (1980s+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with stretching
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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