verb (used with object)

to stretch (canvas for a painting) on a stretcher.

Origin of stretcher

First recorded in 1375–1425, stretcher is from the late Middle English word stretcher. See stretch, -er1



verb (used with object)

to draw out or extend (oneself, a body, limbs, wings, etc.) to the full length or extent (often followed by out): to stretch oneself out on the ground.
to hold out, reach forth, or extend (one's arm, head, etc.).
to extend, spread, or place (something) so as to reach from one point or place to another: to stretch a rope across a road.
to draw tight or taut: to stretch the strings of a violin.
to lengthen, widen, distend, or enlarge by tension: to stretch a rubber band.
to draw out, extend, or enlarge unduly: The jacket was stretched at the elbows.
to extend, force, or make serve beyond the normal or proper limits; strain: to stretch the imagination; to stretch the facts; to stretch food to feed extra guests; to stretch money to keep within a budget.
to extend or strain (oneself) to the utmost, as by intense exertion; tax.
to increase the quantity of (a beverage, food, paint, etc.) by dilution or admixing: They caught the bartender stretching the gin with water.
Radio and Television. to prolong or slow down (action or pace) in order not to end too early: to stretch a show; to stretch the action two minutes.

verb (used without object)

to recline at full length (usually followed by out): to stretch out on a couch.
to extend the hand or to reach, as for something.
to extend over a distance or area or in a particular direction: The forest stretches for miles.
to extend in time: His memory stretches back to his early childhood.
to stretch oneself by extending the limbs and lengthening the muscles to the utmost: to stretch and yawn.
to become stretched, or admit of being stretched, to greater length, width, etc., as any elastic or ductile material.
Radio and Television. to reduce the pace or slow down the action of a radio or television program.


an act or instance of stretching.
the state of being stretched.
a continuous length, distance, tract, or expanse: a stretch of meadow.
Horse Racing. the backstretch or homestretch of a racetrack.
Baseball. a short windup, usually used to keep base runners from taking too long a lead, in which the pitcher starts the pitching motion with hands together at the waist, raises them to or above the head, brings them back to the waist, and, after a momentary pause, delivers the ball.
an extent in time; duration: for a stretch of ten years.
elasticity or capacity for extension.
Slang. a term of imprisonment: He's doing a stretch in the pen.
the act or fact of stretching or extending something beyond reasonable or proper limits: You wouldn't call her a genius by any stretch of the imagination. It's quite a stretch for me to believe his story.
(initial capital letter) a nickname for a tall, lanky person.


made of synthetic or composite yarn having a sufficiently low denier or having been subjected to any of several special mechanical treatments to permit increased elasticity: stretch girdle; stretch pants.
(of yarn) modified or twisted so as to afford high elasticity.
Also stretched. of or relating to a conveyance, as a limousine or airliner, whose seating area is expanded to carry more passengers or afford greater legroom and to allow space for other comforts and amenities.

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. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for stretcher

cot, pallet, litter, bed, gurney, dooly

Examples from the Web for stretcher

Contemporary Examples of stretcher

Historical Examples of stretcher

  • At the station I got a cup of hot milk, and spent the night on a stretcher.

  • I was always seeing him on a stretcher, with his head smashed.


    Emile Zola

  • Two attendants came in, bearing Captain Beaudoin on a stretcher.

    The Downfall

    Emile Zola

  • Blaise had been laid on a stretcher provided with a mattress.


    Emile Zola

  • The young fellow was lying on his back on the stretcher, looking very pale.

British Dictionary definitions for stretcher



a device for transporting the ill, wounded, or dead, consisting of a frame covered by canvas or other material
a strengthening often decorative member joining the legs of a chair, table, etc
the wooden frame on which canvas is stretched and fixed for oil painting
a tie beam or brace used in a structural framework
a brick or stone laid horizontally with its length parallel to the length of a wallCompare header (def. 4)
rowing a fixed board across a boat on which an oarsman braces his feet
Australian and NZ a camp bed
slang an exaggeration or lie

verb (tr)

to transport (a sick or injured person) on a stretcher



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 stretcher



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

stretcher in Medicine




A litter, usually of canvas stretched over a frame, used to transport the sick, wounded, or dead.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with stretcher


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.