See also: stretch-



From Middle English strecchen, from Old English streċċan (to stretch, hold out, extend, spread out, prostrate), from Proto-West Germanic *strakkjan (to stretch, make taut or tight), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)treg-, *streg-, *treg- (stiff, rigid). Cognate with West Frisian strekke, Dutch strekken (to stretch, straighten), German strecken (to stretch, straighten, elongate), Danish strække (to stretch), Swedish sträcka (to stretch), Dutch strak (taut, tight), Albanian shtriqem (to stretch). More at stark.


  • IPA(key): /stɹɛtʃ/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛtʃ


stretch (third-person singular simple present stretches, present participle stretching, simple past and past participle stretched or (obsolete) straught or (obsolete) straight)

  1. (transitive) To lengthen by pulling.
    I stretched the rubber band until it almost broke.
  2. (intransitive) To lengthen when pulled.
    The rubber band stretched almost to the breaking point.
    • 1660, Robert Boyle, New Experiments Physico-Mechanical: Touching the Spring of the Air and their Effects
      The inner membrane [] because it would stretch and yield, remained unbroken.
  3. (transitive) To pull tight.
    First, stretch the skin over the frame of the drum.
  4. (figuratively, transitive) To get more use than expected from a limited resource.
    I managed to stretch my coffee supply a few more days.
  5. (figuratively, transitive) To make inaccurate by exaggeration.
    To say crossing the street was brave is stretching the meaning of "brave" considerably.
  6. (intransitive) To extend physically, especially from limit point to limit point.
    • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 1, in Mr. Pratt's Patients:
      Pretty soon I struck into a sort of path […]. It twisted and turned, [] and opened out into a big clear space like a lawn. And, back of the lawn, was a big, old-fashioned house, with piazzas stretching in front of it, and all blazing with lights.
    The beach stretches from Cresswell to Amble.
  7. (intransitive, transitive) To extend one’s limbs or another part of the body in order to improve the elasticity of one's muscles
    Cats stretch with equal ease and agility beyond the point that breaks a man on the rack.
    I always stretch my muscles before exercising.
  8. (intransitive) To extend to a limit point
    His mustache stretched all the way to his sideburns.
  9. (transitive) To increase.
    • 2011 October 29, Neil Johnston, “Norwich 3-3 Blackburn”, in BBC Sport:
      Yakubu took advantage of John Ruddy's error to put the visitors back in front, with Chris Samba's header stretching their advantage.
  10. (obsolete, colloquial) To stretch the truth; to exaggerate.
    a man apt to stretch in his report of facts
  11. (nautical) To sail by the wind under press of canvas.
    The ship stretched to the eastward.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Ham. Nav. Encyc to this entry?)
  12. (slang, transitive, archaic) To execute by hanging.
  13. To make great demands on the capacity or resources of something.
    • 1960 March, “Talking of Trains: The problem of the peak”, in Trains Illustrated, page 130:
      By the fullest exploitation of modern signalling, multiple-unit operation and flying and burrowing junctions the S.R. has greatly increased the capacity of its tracks to carry this growing load of peak-hour passengers, but that capacity is now stretched to the limit.


See alsoEdit


stretch (plural stretches)

  1. An act of stretching.
    I was right in the middle of a stretch when the phone rang.
  2. The ability to lengthen when pulled.
    That rubber band has quite a bit of stretch.
  3. A course of thought which diverts from straightforward logic, or requires extraordinary belief or exaggeration.
    It's a bit of a stretch to call Boris Karloff a comedian.
    To say crossing the street was brave was quite a stretch.
  4. A segment of a journey or route.
    It was an easy trip except for the last stretch, which took forever.
    It's a tough stretch of road in the winter, especially without chains.
  5. A segment or length of material.
    a stretch of cloth
  6. (Britain, slang, archaic) A walk.
    • a. 1941, Evelyn Underhill, quoted in 2010, Evelyn Underhill, ‎Carol Poston, The Making of a Mystic: New and Selected Letters of Evelyn Underhill (page 81)
      In the afternoon I went for a stretch into the country, & about 4 it cleared up pretty well, so I hurried back & we got a cart & drove to Bassano, a little town about 8 miles off, that we wanted to see.
  7. (baseball) A quick pitching delivery used when runners are on base where the pitcher slides his leg instead of lifting it.
  8. (baseball) A long reach in the direction of the ball with a foot remaining on the base by a first baseman in order to catch the ball sooner.
  9. (informal) Term of address for a tall person.
    • 2007, Michael Farrell, Running with Buffalo:
      “Hey, Stretch,” he shouted at a tall, spectacled co-worker, “turn the fucking station, will you? You know I can't stand Rush, and it's all they play on this one. If I hear those assholes whine 'Tom Sawyer' one more time, I may go on a fucking killing spree.
  10. (horse racing) The homestretch, the final straight section of the track leading to the finish.
  11. A length of time.
    1. (Ireland) Extended daylight hours, especially said of the evening in springtime when compared to the shorter winter days.
      There is a grand stretch in the evenings.
    2. (sports) The period of the season between the trade deadline and the beginning of the playoffs.
      • 2000, GBaseball Dynasties: The Greatet Teams of All Time[1], page 179:
        The '42 Cardinals are best known for their amazing stretch run. St. Louis won 43 of their last 51 games and came back from a double-digit deficit in games in early August to edge out the Dodgers for the N.L. flag.
    3. (slang) A jail or prison term.
      He did a seven-year stretch in jail.
      Synonym: stint
      1. (slang) A jail or prison term of one year's duration.
    4. A single uninterrupted sitting; a turn.
  12. A stretch limousine.


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Derived termsEdit


  • Esperanto: streĉi

Further readingEdit

  • stretch at OneLook Dictionary Search


  • (a walk): 1873, John Camden Hotten, The Slang Dictionary