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[tawt] /tɔt/
adjective, tauter, tautest.
tightly drawn; tense; not slack.
emotionally or mentally strained or tense:
taut nerves.
in good order or condition; tidy; neat.
Origin of taut
1275-1325; earlier taught, Middle English tought; akin to tow1
Related forms
tautly, adverb
tautness, noun
untaut, adjective
untautly, adverb
untautness, noun
Can be confused
taught, taut, taunt.
3. trim, trig, spruce, smart. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for tautness
Historical Examples
  • His sudden face went from the tautness of his last speech to fear.

    Captives of the Flame Samuel R. Delany
  • Parish Thornton was breathing his words through lips that scarcely moved as he bent forward with the tautness of a coiled spring.

    The Roof Tree Charles Neville Buck
  • She felt again the muscles of his forearms snap into tautness as he stood silent under her father's insults.

    The Tyranny of Weakness Charles Neville Buck
  • Conscious of the tautness of his own nerves, strung like quivering violin strings.

  • To me, strung up to a tautness of sensation that almost frightens me, this silence of the Mate is horrible.

    An Ocean Tramp William McFee
  • The mother gave a sigh of relief, but she did not interrupt, nor did she relax the tautness of her body.

    Kennedy Square F. Hopkinson Smith
  • Braceway was amazed by the intensity of Bristow's glance, the tautness of his body, the harsh authority in his voice.

    The Winning Clue

    James Hay, Jr.
  • The stranger was a large schooner, and the tautness of the spars and rigging showed that she was in beautiful order.

    With Clive in India

    G. A. Henty
  • Claire was conscious of tautness of the cords of her neck in front; of a pain at the base of her brain.

    Free Air Sinclair Lewis
  • All at once the tautness went out of her, and Sira leaned against the wall, divided between laughing and crying.

    The Martian Cabal Roman Frederick Starzl
British Dictionary definitions for tautness


tightly stretched; tense
showing nervous strain; stressed
(mainly nautical) in good order; neat
Derived Forms
tautly, adverb
tautness, noun
Word Origin
C14 tought; probably related to Old English togian to tow1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for tautness



early 14c., tohte, possibly from tog-, past participle stem of Old English teon "to pull, drag," from Proto-Germanic *tugn, from PIE *deuk- "to lead" (see duke (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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