Idioms

    on a/the string, Informal. subject to the whim of another; in one's power; dependent: After keeping me on a string for two months, they finally hired someone else.
    pull strings/wires,
    1. to use one's influence or authority, usually in secret, in order to bring about a desired result.
    2. to gain or attempt to gain one's objectives by means of influential friends, associates, etc.: He had his uncle pull strings to get him a promotion.

Origin of string

before 900; (noun) Middle English string, streng, Old English streng; cognate with Dutch streng, German Strang; akin to Latin stringere to bind; (v.) late Middle English stringen to string a bow, derivative of the noun
Related formsstring·less, adjectivestring·like, adjectivere·string, verb, re·strung, re·string·ing.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019


Examples from the Web for string

Contemporary Examples of string

Historical Examples of string

  • I wish you are not indeed angry with me for harping so much on one string.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • You will see three on one string; send me the one with such and such teeth.'

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • However, I am going to give my imagination rein, and string some rhymes about them.

    Ballads of a Bohemian

    Robert W. Service

  • You see, she finds the ring, as I knew she would from the moment that your string twanged.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • I have thirteen arrows yet, and if one of them fly unfleshed, then, by the twang of string!

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle


British Dictionary definitions for string

string

noun

a thin length of cord, twine, fibre, or similar material used for tying, hanging, binding, etc
a group of objects threaded on a single stranda string of beads
a series or succession of things, events, acts, utterances, etca string of oaths
a number, chain, or group of similar things, animals, etc, owned by or associated with one person or bodya string of girlfriends
a tough fibre or cord in a plantthe string of an orange; the string of a bean
music a tightly stretched wire, cord, etc, found on stringed instruments, such as the violin, guitar, and piano
short for bowstring
architect short for string course, stringer (def. 1)
maths linguistics a sequence of symbols or words
linguistics a linear sequence, such as a sentence as it is spoken
physics a one-dimensional entity postulated to be a fundamental component of matter in some theories of particle physicsSee also cosmic string
billiards another word for lag 1 (def. 6)
a group of characters that can be treated as a unit by a computer program
(plural) complications or conditions (esp in the phrase no strings attached)
(modifier) composed of stringlike strands woven in a large mesha string bag; string vest
keep on a string to have control or a hold over (a person), esp emotionally
pull strings informal to exert personal influence, esp secretly or unofficially
pull the strings to have real or ultimate control of something
second string a person or thing regarded as a secondary source of strength
the strings (plural)
  1. violins, violas, cellos, and double basses collectively
  2. the section of a symphony orchestra constituted by such instruments

verb strings, stringing or strung (strʌŋ)

(tr) to provide with a string or strings
(tr) to suspend or stretch from one point to another
(tr) to thread on a string
(tr) to form or extend in a line or series
(foll by out) to space or spread out at intervals
(tr usually foll by up) informal to kill (a person) by hanging
(tr) to remove the stringy parts from (vegetables, esp beans)
(intr) (esp of viscous liquids) to become stringy or ropey
(tr often foll by up) to cause to be tense or nervous
billiards another word for lag 1 (def. 3)
Derived Formsstringlike, adjective

Word Origin for string

Old English streng; related to Old High German strang, Old Norse strengr; see strong
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 string
n.

Old English streng "line, cord, thread," from Proto-Germanic *strangiz (cf. Old Norse strengr, Danish streng, Middle Dutch strenge, Dutch streng, Old High German strang, German Strang "rope, cord"), from *strang- "taut, stiff," from PIE root *strenk- "tight, narrow; pull tight, twist" (see strain). Gradually restricted by early Middle English to lines that are smaller than a rope. Sense of "a number of objects arranged in a line" first recorded late 15c.

Old English meaning "ligaments, tendons" is preserved in hamstring, heartstrings. Meaning "limitations, stipulations" (1888) is American English, probably from the common April Fool's joke of leaving a purse that looks full of money on the sidewalk, then tugging it away with an attached string when someone stoops to pick it up. To pull strings "control the course of affairs" (1860) is from the notion of puppet theater. First string, second string, etc. in athletics (1863) is from archers' custom of carrying spare bowstrings in the event that one breaks. Strings "stringed instruments" is attested from mid-14c. String bean is from 1759; string bikini is from 1974.

v.

c.1400, "to fit a bow with a string," from string (n.). Meaning "to thread (beads, etc.) on a string" is from 1610s. To string (someone) along is slang from 1902; string (v.) in this sense is attested in British dialect from c.1812.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with string

string

In addition to the idioms beginning with string

  • string along
  • string out
  • strings attached
  • string together
  • string up

also see:

  • harp on (one string)
  • no strings attached
  • on a shoestring
  • on a string
  • pull strings
  • purse strings
  • tied to apron strings
  • two strings to one's bow
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.