Origin of stretch

before 900; Middle English strecchen (v.), Old English streccan; cognate with Dutch strekken, German strecken; akin to Old English stræc firm, hard, Middle Dutch strac stiff. See stare, stark
Related formsstretch·a·ble, adjectivestretch·a·bil·i·ty, nounnon·stretch·a·ble, adjectivepre·stretch, verb (used with object), nounun·stretch·a·ble, adjectiveun·stretched, adjectivewell-stretched, adjective

Synonyms for stretch

5. See lengthen. 11. lie down. 20. range, reach, compass.

Antonyms for stretch

5, 16. shorten, shrink.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for prestretch



to draw out or extend or be drawn out or extended in length, area, etc
to extend or be extended to an undue degree, esp so as to distort or lengthen permanently
to extend (the limbs, body, etc)
(tr) to reach or suspend (a rope, etc) from one place to another
(tr) to draw tight; tighten
(often foll by out, forward, etc) to reach or hold (out); extend
(intr usually foll by over) to extend in timethe course stretched over three months
(intr; foll by for, over, etc) (of a region, etc) to extend in length or area
(intr) (esp of a garment) to be capable of expanding, as to a larger sizesocks that will stretch
(tr) to put a great strain upon or extend to the limit
to injure (a muscle, tendon, ligament, etc) by means of a strain or sprain
(tr often foll by out) to make do with (limited resources)to stretch one's budget
(tr) informal to expand or elaborate (a story, etc) beyond what is credible or acceptablethat's stretching it a bit
(tr; often passive) to extend, as to the limit of one's abilities or talents
archaic, or slang to hang or be hanged by the neck
stretch a point
  1. to make a concession or exception not usually made
  2. to exaggerate
stretch one's legs to take a walk, esp after a period of inactivity


the act of stretching or state of being stretched
a large or continuous expanse or distancea stretch of water
extent in time, length, area, etc
  1. capacity for being stretched, as in some garments
  2. (as modifier)stretch pants
horse racing the section or sections of a racecourse that are straight, esp the final straight section leading to the finishing line
slang a term of imprisonment
at a stretch mainly British
  1. with some difficulty; by making a special effort
  2. if really necessary or in extreme circumstances
  3. at one time
Derived Formsstretchable, adjectivestretchability, noun

Word Origin for stretch

Old English streccan; related to Old Frisian strekka, Old High German strecken; see straight, strake
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

Word Origin and History for prestretch



Old English streccan, from Proto-Germanic *strakjanan (cf. Danish strække, Swedish sträcka, Old Frisian strekka, Old High German strecchan, Middle Low German, Middle Dutch, Old High German, German strecken "to stretch"), perhaps a variant of the root of stark, or else from PIE root *strenk- "tight, narrow; pull tight, twist" (see strain).

Meaning "to extend (the limbs or wings)" is from c.1200; that of "to lay out for burial" is from early 13c. To stretch one's legs "take a walk" is from c.1600. Meaning "to lengthen by force" first recorded late 14c.; figurative sense of "to enlarge beyond proper limits, exaggerate," is from 1550s. Stretch limo first attested 1973. Stretch marks is attested from 1960. Stretcher "canvas frame for carrying the sick or wounded" is first attested 1845.



1540s, "act of stretching," from stretch (v.); meaning "unbroken continuance of some activity" is first recorded 1680s; meaning "straightaway of a race course" (e.g. home stretch) is recorded from 1841.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with prestretch


In addition to the idioms beginning with stretch

  • stretch a point
  • stretch one's legs

also see:

  • at a stretch
  • by any stretch
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.