from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To lengthen, widen, or distend.
  • intransitive verb To cause to extend from one place to another or across a given space.
  • intransitive verb To make taut; tighten.
  • intransitive verb To reach or put forth; extend.
  • intransitive verb To extend (oneself or one's limbs, for example) to full length.
  • intransitive verb To extend (oneself) when lying down.
  • intransitive verb To put to torture on the rack.
  • intransitive verb To wrench or strain (a muscle, for example).
  • intransitive verb To extend or enlarge beyond the usual or proper limits.
  • intransitive verb To subject to undue strain.
  • intransitive verb To expand in order to fulfill a larger function.
  • intransitive verb To increase the quantity of by admixture or dilution.
  • intransitive verb To prolong.
  • intransitive verb Informal To fell by a blow.
  • intransitive verb To become lengthened, widened, or distended.
  • intransitive verb To extend or reach over a distance or area or in a given direction.
  • intransitive verb To lie down at full length.
  • intransitive verb To extend one's muscles or limbs, as after prolonged sitting or on awakening.
  • intransitive verb To extend over a given period of time.
  • noun The act of stretching or the state of being stretched.
  • noun The extent or scope to which something can be stretched; elasticity.
  • noun A continuous or unbroken length, area, or expanse.
  • noun A straight section of a racecourse or track, especially the section leading to the finish line.
  • noun A continuous period of time.
  • noun Slang A term of imprisonment.
  • noun Informal The last stage of an event, period, or process.
  • noun Baseball A series of movements in which a pitcher, standing with the glove side facing home plate, raises both hands to the height of the head and then lowers them to the chest or waist for a short pause before pitching the ball. It is used especially when runners are on base because it gives base runners less time to steal than they have during a full windup.
  • adjective Made of an elastic material that stretches easily.
  • adjective Of, relating to, or being a vehicle, such as a limousine or passenger jet, having an extended seating area that provides extra space for more passengers, leg room, or amenities.
  • idiom (stretch (one's) legs) To go for a walk, especially after a lengthy period of sitting.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The traverse of the spindle-carriage of a spinning-mule.
  • noun Capability of being stretched; elasticity; capacity for yielding.
  • To draw (out); pull (out).
  • To draw out to full length; extend; expand; spread: as, to stretch one's self; to stretch the wings; to stretch one's legs; hence, sometimes, to tighten; make tense or taut.
  • To extend, or cause to reach or extend, lengthwise, or between specified points: as, to stretch a rope from one point to another.
  • To draw out or extend in any direction by the application of force; draw out by tensile stress: as, to stretch cloth; to stretch a rubber band beyond its strength.
  • To distend or expand forcibly or violently; strain by the exercise of force; subject to stress, literally or figuratively.
  • To extend or strain too far; impair by straining; do violence to; exaggerate: as, to stretch the truth.
  • To exert; strain.
  • To reach or hold out; put forth; extend.
  • To cause to lie or fall extended at full length: as, to stretch an opponent on the ground by a blow.
  • To hang.
  • To extend; reach; be continuous over a distance; be drawn out in length or in breadth, or both; spread.
  • To be extended or to bear extension without breaking, as elastic substances; attain greater length: literally or figuratively.
  • To go beyond the truth; exaggerate.
  • Nautical, to sail by the wind under all sail.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English strecchen, from Old English streccan.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English strecchen, from Old English streċċan ("to stretch, hold out, extend, spread out, prostrate"), from Proto-Germanic *strakjanan, *strakkijanan (“to stretch, make taut or tight”), from Proto-Indo-European *streg-, *treg- (“stiff, rigid”). Cognate with 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.


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  • noun. stretch of something, stretch of nature.

    January 29, 2012