verb (used with object)
  1. 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.
  2. to hold out, reach forth, or extend (one's arm, head, etc.).
  3. to extend, spread, or place (something) so as to reach from one point or place to another: to stretch a rope across a road.
  4. to draw tight or taut: to stretch the strings of a violin.
  5. to lengthen, widen, distend, or enlarge by tension: to stretch a rubber band.
  6. to draw out, extend, or enlarge unduly: The jacket was stretched at the elbows.
  7. 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.
  8. to extend or strain (oneself) to the utmost, as by intense exertion; tax.
  9. to increase the quantity of (a beverage, food, paint, etc.) by dilution or admixing: They caught the bartender stretching the gin with water.
  10. 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)
  1. to recline at full length (usually followed by out): to stretch out on a couch.
  2. to extend the hand or to reach, as for something.
  3. to extend over a distance or area or in a particular direction: The forest stretches for miles.
  4. to extend in time: His memory stretches back to his early childhood.
  5. to stretch oneself by extending the limbs and lengthening the muscles to the utmost: to stretch and yawn.
  6. to become stretched, or admit of being stretched, to greater length, width, etc., as any elastic or ductile material.
  7. Radio and Television. to reduce the pace or slow down the action of a radio or television program.
  1. an act or instance of stretching.
  2. the state of being stretched.
  3. a continuous length, distance, tract, or expanse: a stretch of meadow.
  4. Horse Racing. the backstretch or homestretch of a racetrack.
  5. 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.
  6. an extent in time; duration: for a stretch of ten years.
  7. elasticity or capacity for extension.
  8. Slang. a term of imprisonment: He's doing a stretch in the pen.
  9. 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.
  10. (initial capital letter) a nickname for a tall, lanky person.
  1. 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.
  2. (of yarn) modified or twisted so as to afford high elasticity.
  3. 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. 2018

Examples from the Web for unstretched

Contemporary Examples of unstretched

  • Why is it that black artists of the 1970s seem to have been drawn to unstretched canvases?

    The Daily Beast logo
    Black Power Comes Unstretched

    Blake Gopnik

    April 10, 2012

Historical Examples of unstretched

  • If the weather is somewhat warm and the skin remains uncleaned and unstretched a day or two, it may start to taint.

    Fur Farming For Profit

    Hermon Basil Laymon

British Dictionary definitions for unstretched


  1. to draw out or extend or be drawn out or extended in length, area, etc
  2. to extend or be extended to an undue degree, esp so as to distort or lengthen permanently
  3. to extend (the limbs, body, etc)
  4. (tr) to reach or suspend (a rope, etc) from one place to another
  5. (tr) to draw tight; tighten
  6. (often foll by out, forward, etc) to reach or hold (out); extend
  7. (intr usually foll by over) to extend in timethe course stretched over three months
  8. (intr; foll by for, over, etc) (of a region, etc) to extend in length or area
  9. (intr) (esp of a garment) to be capable of expanding, as to a larger sizesocks that will stretch
  10. (tr) to put a great strain upon or extend to the limit
  11. to injure (a muscle, tendon, ligament, etc) by means of a strain or sprain
  12. (tr often foll by out) to make do with (limited resources)to stretch one's budget
  13. (tr) informal to expand or elaborate (a story, etc) beyond what is credible or acceptablethat's stretching it a bit
  14. (tr; often passive) to extend, as to the limit of one's abilities or talents
  15. archaic, or slang to hang or be hanged by the neck
  16. stretch a point
    1. to make a concession or exception not usually made
    2. to exaggerate
  17. stretch one's legs to take a walk, esp after a period of inactivity
  1. the act of stretching or state of being stretched
  2. a large or continuous expanse or distancea stretch of water
  3. extent in time, length, area, etc
    1. capacity for being stretched, as in some garments
    2. (as modifier)stretch pants
  4. horse racing the section or sections of a racecourse that are straight, esp the final straight section leading to the finishing line
  5. slang a term of imprisonment
  6. 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 unstretched



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 unstretched


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.