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stretch Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. noun a large and unbroken expanse or distance
    • a stretch of highway
    • a stretch of clear water
  2. noun the act of physically reaching or thrusting out
    reach; reaching.
  3. noun a straightaway section of a racetrack
  4. noun exercise designed to extend the limbs and muscles to their full extent
  5. noun extension to or beyond the ordinary limit
    • running at full stretch
    • by no stretch of the imagination
    • beyond any stretch of his understanding
  6. noun an unbroken period of time during which you do something
    • there were stretches of boredom
    • he did a stretch in the federal penitentiary
  7. noun the capacity for being stretched
    stretchiness; stretchability.
  8. verb occupy a large, elongated area
    stretch along.
    • The park stretched beneath the train line
  9. verb extend one's limbs or muscles, or the entire body
    • Stretch your legs!
    • Extend your right arm above your head
  10. verb extend or stretch out to a greater or the full length
    extend; stretch out; unfold.
    • Unfold the newspaper
    • stretch out that piece of cloth
    • extend the TV antenna
  11. verb become longer by being stretched and pulled
    • The fabric stretches
  12. verb make long or longer by pulling and stretching
    • stretch the fabric
  13. verb lie down comfortably
    stretch out.
    • To enjoy the picnic, we stretched out on the grass
  14. verb pull in opposite directions
    • During the Inquisition, the torturers would stretch their victims on a rack
  15. verb extend the scope or meaning of; often unduly
    • Stretch the limits
    • stretch my patience
    • stretch the imagination
  16. verb corrupt, debase, or make impure by adding a foreign or inferior substance; often by replacing valuable ingredients with inferior ones
    load; dilute; debase; adulterate.
    • adulterate liquor
  17. verb increase in quantity or bulk by adding a cheaper substance
    • stretch the soup by adding some more cream
    • extend the casserole with a little rice
  18. verb extend one's body or limbs
    stretch out.
    • Let's stretch for a minute--we've been sitting here for over 3 hours
  19. adjective satellite having an elongated seating area
    • a stretch limousine
  20. adjective satellite easily stretched
    • stretch hosiery

Stretch transitive verb
OE. strecchen, AS. streccan; akin to D. strekken, G. strecken, OHG. strecchen, Sw. sträcka, Dan. strække; cf. AS. stræck, strec, strong, violent, G. strack straight; of uncertain origin, perhaps akin to E. strong. Cf. Straight.
imperfect & past participle Stretched ; present participle & verbal noun Stretching
  1. To reach out; to extend; to put forth.
    And stretch forth his neck long and small. Chaucer.
    I in conquest stretched mine arm. Shak.
  2. To draw out to the full length; to cause to extend in a straight line; as, to stretch a cord or rope.
  3. To cause to extend in breadth; to spread; to expand; as, to stretch cloth; to stretch the wings.
  4. To make tense; to tighten; to distend forcibly.
    The ox hath therefore stretched his yoke in vain. Shak.
  5. To draw or pull out to greater length; to strain; as, to stretch a tendon or muscle.
    Awake, my soul, stretch every nerve. Doddridge.
  6. To exaggerate; to extend too far; as, to stretch the truth; to stretch one's credit.
    They take up, one day, the most violent and stretched prerogative. Burke.
Stretch intransitive verb
  1. To be extended; to be drawn out in length or in breadth, or both; to spread; to reach; as, the iron road stretches across the continent; the lake stretches over fifty square miles.
    As far as stretcheth any ground. Gower.
  2. To extend or spread one's self, or one's limbs; as, the lazy man yawns and stretches.
  3. To be extended, or to bear extension, without breaking, as elastic or ductile substances.
    The inner membrane . . . because it would stretch and yield, remained umbroken. Boyle.
  4. To strain the truth; to exaggerate; as, a man apt to stretch in his report of facts. Obs. or Colloq.
  5. (Naut.) To sail by the wind under press of canvas; as, the ship stretched to the eastward. Ham. Nav. Encyc.
Stretch noun
  1. Act of stretching, or state of being stretched; reach; effort; struggle; strain; as, a stretch of the limbs; a stretch of the imagination.
    By stretch of arms the distant shore to gain. Dryden.
    Those put a lawful authority upon the stretch, to the abuse of yower, under the color of prerogative. L'Estrange.
  2. A continuous line or surface; a continuous space of time; as, grassy stretches of land.
    A great stretch of cultivated country. W. Black.
    But all of them left me a week at a stretch. E. Eggleston.
  3. The extent to which anything may be stretched.
    Quotations, in their utmost stretch, can signify no more than that Luther lay under severe agonies of mind. Atterbury.
    This is the utmost stretch that nature can. Granville.
  4. (Naut.) The reach or extent of a vessel's progress on one tack; a tack or board.
  5. Course; direction; as, the stretch of seams of coal.

Webster 1913