adjective, tauter, tautest.
tightly drawn; tense; not slack.
emotionally or mentally strained or tense: taut nerves.
in good order or condition; tidy; neat.

1275–1325; earlier taught, Middle English tought; akin to tow1

tautly, adverb
tautness, noun
untaut, adjective
untautly, adverb
untautness, noun

taught, taut, taunt.

3. trim, trig, spruce, smart.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
taut (tɔːt)
1.  tightly stretched; tense
2.  showing nervous strain; stressed
3.  chiefly nautical in good order; neat
[C14 tought; probably related to Old English togian to tow1]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

early 14c., tohte, possibly from tog-, pp. stem of O.E. teon "to pull, drag," from P.Gmc. *tugn, from PIE *deuk- "to lead" (see duke).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
The towel needs to be fairly taut across the top of the bowl to prevent it from
  sagging into the water.
Run the wire from eyehook to eyehook, pulling as taut as possible as you go.
Hank slowly and tenderly grilled a slew of those venison sausages until they
  were shiny, taut, and on the verge of bursting.
In certain waves, the rope becomes alternatively slack and taut as the buoys
  lean toward and pull away from each other.
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