The adjective is derived from Middle English taught [and other forms], Early Middle English tohte, towehte (“strained, stretched; distended; tight; firm”), probably from tough, touth, touʒth, toʒt (“powerful, strong; fierce, violent; not tender, tough; hardy, resilient; steadfast, stout; difficult to do or endure”) and possibly influenced by togen, towen, past participle of ten (“to extend, stretch out; to drag, haul, pull, tow, tug”) (modern English tee (“(obsolete) to draw, lead; to draw away; to go, proceed”)), or directly from its etymon Old English tēon (“to drag, draw, pull”) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *dewk- (“to draw, pull”)) The word may be related to thight (“(dialectal) compact, dense; close-fitting, tight”) and tight; and is cognate with Scots tacht, taght (“taut”).
The verb is probably derived from the adjective.
- (Received Pronunciation) enPR: tôt, IPA(key): /tɔːt/
Audio (RP) (file)
- (General American) IPA(key): /tɔt/
Audio (GA) (file)
- (cot–caught merger) enPR: tät, IPA(key): /tɑt/
- Rhymes: -ɔːt
- Homophones: taught, tort (in non-rhotic accents), tot (with cot-caught merger)
- (also figuratively) Under tension, like a stretched bowstring, rope, or sail; tight.
- Synonyms: nonslack, stretched, tense, tensioned; see also Thesaurus:taut
- Antonyms: untaut; see also Thesaurus:loose
- 1881–1882, Robert Louis Stevenson, “The Ebb-tide Runs”, in Treasure Island, London; Paris: Cassell & Company, published 14 November 1883, OCLC 702939134, part V (My Sea Adventure), page 185:
- The hawser was as taut as a bowstring, and the current so strong she pulled upon her anchor. All around the hull, in the blackness, the rippling current bubbled and chattered like a little mountain stream.
- 1912, Roald Amundsen, “The End of the Winter”, in A. G. Chater, transl., The South Pole: An Account of the Norwegian Antarctic Expedition in the “Fram,” 1910–1912 [...] Translated from the Norwegian [...] In Two Volumes, volume I, London: John Murray, […], OCLC 557852685, page 350:
- Every piece of binding is first carefully examined and tested; then it is put on, cautiously and accurately. Every turn is hauled taut, taking care that it is in its right place. [...] A sledge journey of the kind we had before us is a serious undertaking, and the work has to be done seriously.
- 1914, Constance Lytton and Jane Warton [pseudonym; Lady Constance Bulwer-Lytton], “My Conversion”, in Prisons & Prisoners: Some Personal Experiences, London: William Heinemann, OCLC 1067081057, page 19:
- After some moments of interchanging messages with the leaders on the platform, during which the suspense in the hall was tremendously taut, the police left saying that the women arrested would have to report themselves at Bow Street the following morning.
- 1959 March, “Talking of Trains: The L.M.S. Beyer-Garratts”, in Trains Illustrated, page 122:
- With an engine of the weight of a Garratt heading a long heavy coal train over such a road great skill in handling was necessary; not only by the enginemen but by the guard; the secret, of course, was to keep the couplings as taut as possible throughout the train to avoid severe "snatches".
- 1971, Yoram Kaniuk, “The Barking”, in [Lazarre] Seymour Simckes, transl., Adam Resurrected: Translated from the Hebrew, New York, N.Y.: Atheneum Books, OCLC 142778; republished New York, N.Y.: Grove Press, 2008, →ISBN, page 105:
- The cord goes taut, tauter, tautest, till down she trips and Adam has a good laugh.
- 2007, Anthony Neilson, The Wonderful World of Dissocia, London: Methuen Drama, →ISBN; republished London; New York, N.Y.: Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015, →ISBN, Act I, page 25:
- Lisa Jones – a woman in her thirties – sits cross-legged onstage, absent-mindedly tuning the high E-string on an acoustic guitar. She tunes the string up and up until it reaches the correct note – and then continues on past it. [...] Higher and higher the note, the string growing ever more taut, the fretboard beginning to tremble under the strain, the tension rising – but she still winds the tuning peg, up and up and up and up until … … the string snaps!
- (of a body, muscles, etc.) Not flabby; firm, toned; (of a person) having a lean, strong body.
- 2014 July, Miles J. Unger, “The Giant”, in Michelangelo: A Life in Six Masterpieces, New York, N.Y.: Simon & Schuster, →ISBN, page 108:
- In a sense, Michelangelo's David is everything his Bacchus was not: firmly in control of himself while the god of wine was teetering on the brink of dissolution; his senses heightened while Bacchus's are dulled. Where one is taut, the other is flaccid. David's toned, athletic body contrasts with Bacchus's effeminate form, illustrating the dichotomy in Michelangelo's mind between the active masculine force and the passive feminine.
- 2015, Lindsay McKenna, “[Hidden Heart] Chapter 7”, in Lindsay McKenna; Merline Lovelace; Patience Bloom, editor, Course of Action: Crossfire (Harlequin Romantic Suspense; 1853), Don Mills, Ont.: Harlequin Books, →ISBN, page 111:
- The silky sarong fell away, pooling around her hips with a whisper. Her nipples were pink and taut, the rest of her naked body a soft glow as moonlight flowed through the living room.
- (of music, writing, etc.) Containing only relevant parts; brief and controlled.
- 1991 February 14, Peter Travers, “The Silence of the Lambs [film review]”, in Rolling Stone, New York, N.Y.: Wenner Media, ISSN 0035-791X, OCLC 1057982905, archived from the original on 5 December 2017:
- 1997, “Minty: A Story of a Young Harriet Tubman (written by Alan Schroeder, 1996) [book review]”, in Linda R. Andres, editor, Children’s Literature Review, volume 43, Detroit, Mich.: Gale Research, →ISBN, page 174, column 2; quoted in Milton C. Sernett, “‘Minty’”, in Harriet Tubman: Myth, Memory and History, Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2007, →ISBN, page 35:
- Quick action and dialogue create a taut story, although it is illustration that shapes the characters.
- 2017 January 20, Annie Zaleski, “AFI Sounds Refreshed and Rejuvenated on Its 10th Album, AFI (The Blood Album)”, in The A.V. Club, archived from the original on 3 November 2019:
- (figuratively) Experiencing anxiety or stress.
- (nautical, of a sailor, a ship, etc.) Neat and well-disciplined; (by extension) efficient and in order.
- 1832 September, John Wilson; W[illia]m Maginn; J[ohn] G[ibson] Lockhart; James Hogg [et al.], Noctes Ambrosianæ […], volume V, number LXII, New York, N.Y.: Redfield […], published 1854, OCLC 4533369, page 76:
- [O]ur friend was a hearty toper in the days of his Whiggery, but no sooner turned one of the tautest of Tories, than he took to the tea-pot. It seems a thing against nature.
- 1863, Anne Bowman, “The Adventures of Clever Jack”, in Edmund Routledge, editor, Routledge’s Every Boy’s Annual. An Original Miscellany of Entertaining Literature, London; New York, N.Y.: Routledge, Warne, & Routledge, […], OCLC 517518744, chapter I (Jack Determines to be His Own Master), page 109:
- [T]he astonished boy looked round him, and wondered if this could really be the trim, taut ship he had read of. The deck was so encumbered with foul-smelling casks, coils of rope, and masses of rubbish, that there was no room to move; and Jack felt at a loss where to fly to be out of the way of the busy, swearing crew.
- 2004, Allan Kozinn, “Béla Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra; Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta, and Hungarian Sketches: Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Fritz Reiner, Conducting […]”, in Classical Music: A Critic’s Guide to the 100 Most Important Recordings (The New York Times Essential Library), New York, N.Y.: Times Books; Henry Holt and Company, →ISBN, page 259:
- George Szell took up the reins of the Cleveland Orchestra in 1946, and made it one of the world's tautest, most disciplined ensembles, ideal in the classical and early romantic repertory.
- (oenology) Strong; uncompromising.
- 2018 March 8, Eric Asimov, “Bubbles, with joy: Pétillant Naturel’s triumphant return”, in The New York Times, New York, N.Y.: The New York Times Company, ISSN 0362-4331, OCLC 971436363, archived from the original on 13 November 2019:
- Yet the 2016 Éxilé rosé from Lise et Bertrand Jousset in the Loire Valley, made mostly of gamay, was yeasty let light and lithe, while the 2016 Indigeno from Ancarani in Emilia-Romagna, made of trebbiano, was taut and earthy.
- (transitive) To make taut; to tauten, to tighten.
- 1917 August, The Road-maker, volume 2, number 5, Port Huron, Mich.: [s.n.], OCLC 781682117, page 18, column 2:
- The machine is operated by a double friction drum hoist. From the rear drum a steel cable, called the tension cable, leads to a set of fall blocks attached to the mast pole. These blocks afford a means for slackening and tauting the track cable, one end of which is supported by the fall blocks and the other fastened to a "dead man" or other suitable anchorage planted in the bank of the pit opposite the dumping point.
- 1920 May, F[rancis] Scott Fitzgerald, “The Cut-Glass Bowl”, in Flappers and Philosophers, New York, N.Y.: Charles Scribner’s Sons, OCLC 623621399, part IV, page 153:
- The cold wind blew in again through the front door, and with a desperate, frantic energy Evelyn stretched both her arms around the bowl. She must be quick—she must be strong. She tightened her arms until they ached, tauted the thin strips of muscle under her soft flesh, and with a mighty effort raised it and held it.
- 2016, J. Vogelsang; G. Huber; T[heodoros] Triantafyllidis; T. Bender, “Interpretation of Vibratory Pile Penetration Based on Digital Image Correlation”, in Theodoros Triantafyllidis, editor, Holistic Simulation of Geotechnical Installation Processes: Benchmarks and Simulations (Lecture Notes in Applied and Computational Mechanics; 80), Cham, Switzerland; Heidelberg: Springer International Publishing, DOI:10.1007/978-3-319-23159-4, →ISBN, ISSN 1613-7736, section 2.3 (Instrumentation and Data Acquisition), pages 35–36:
- The global penetration is measured with a potentiometric displacement sensor connected to an impeller. A thin steel cable is fastened with a spring to the vibrator and runs over the rim of the impeller. On the other side, a counterweight of 0.4 kg tauts the cable, [...].
- “tought, adj.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
- ^ “tough, adj.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
- ^ “taut, adj.”, in OED Online , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, June 2014; “taut, adj.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.
- Nominative plural form of tau.
taut n (genitive singular tauts, no plural)
- tauta (“to mutter”)
Related to Finnish taltta.