adjective, tight·er, tight·est.

adverb, tight·er, tight·est.

in a tight manner; closely; firmly; securely; tensely: Shut the door tight. The shirt fit tight across the shoulders.
soundly or deeply: to sleep tight.


    sit tight, to take no action.

Origin of tight

1400–50; late Middle English, sandhi variant of Middle English thight dense, solid, tight < Old Norse thēttr (cognate with Old English -thiht firm, solid, Dutch, German dicht tight, close, dense)
Related formstight·ly, adverbtight·ness, nouno·ver·tight, adjectiveo·ver·tight·ly, adverbo·ver·tight·ness, noun

Synonyms for tight

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

Examples from the Web for tight

Contemporary Examples of tight

Historical Examples of tight

  • His grasp did not bruise, it did not seem to be tight; but the hand that held it was immovable.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Linda suddenly gathered her friend in her arms and held her tight.

    Her Father's Daughter

    Gene Stratton-Porter

  • You never know what hold you really have until you get in a tight place.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • Screwed the top on tight, which would make the connection, and then forgot the time.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • We were both down, with our faces in the snow, and I held him tight.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

British Dictionary definitions for tight



stretched or drawn so as not to be loose; tauta tight cord
fitting or covering in a close mannera tight dress
held, made, fixed, or closed firmly and securelya tight knot
  1. of close and compact construction or organization, esp so as to be impervious to water, air, etc
  2. (in combination)watertight; airtight
unyielding or stringentto keep a tight hold on resources
cramped or constricteda tight fit
mean or miserly
difficult and problematica tight situation
hardly profitablea tight bargain
  1. (of a commodity) difficult to obtain; in excess demand
  2. (of funds, money, etc) difficult and expensive to borrow because of high demand or restrictive monetary policy
  3. (of markets) characterized by excess demand or scarcity with prices tending to riseCompare easy (def. 8)
(of a match or game) very close or even
(of a team or group, esp of a pop group) playing well together, in a disciplined coordinated way
informal drunk
informal (of a person) showing tension
archaic, or dialect neat


in a close, firm, or secure waypull it tight
sit tight
  1. to wait patiently; bide one's time
  2. to maintain one's position, stand, or opinion firmly
sleep tight to sleep soundly
Derived Formstightly, adverbtightness, noun

Word Origin for tight

C14: probably variant of thight, from Old Norse thēttr close; related to Middle High German dīhte thick
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 tight

mid-15c., "dense, close, compact," from Middle English thight, from Old Norse þettr "watertight, close in texture, solid," from Proto-Germanic *thenkhtuz (cf. second element in Old English meteþiht "stout from eating;" Middle High German dihte "dense, thick," German dicht "dense, tight," Old High German gidigan, German gediegen "genuine, solid, worthy"), from PIE root *tenk- "to become firm, curdle, thicken" (cf. Irish techt "curdled, coagulated," Lithuanian tankus "close, tight," Persian tang "tight," Sanskrit tanakti "draws together, contracts").

Sense of "drawn, stretched" is from 1570s; meaning "fitting closely" (as of garments) is from 1779; that of "evenly matched" (of a contest, bargain, etc.) is from 1828, American English; that of "drunk" is from 1830; that of "close, sympathetic" is from 1956. Tight-assed "unwilling to relax" is attested from 1903. Tight-laced is recorded from 1741 in both the literal and figurative senses. Tight-lipped is first attested 1876.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with tight


In addition to the idioms beginning with tight

  • tight as a drum
  • tight as a tick
  • tighten one's belt
  • tighten the screws
  • tight rein on, a
  • tight ship
  • tight spot
  • tight squeeze

also see:

  • in a bind (tight corner)
  • sit tight
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.