Definition of stretch in English:



  • 1(of something soft or elastic) be made or be capable of being made longer or wider without tearing or breaking.

    ‘my jumper stretched in the wash’
    ‘rubber will stretch easily when pulled’
    • ‘Some of the samples were oriented by PVA film stretching.’
    • ‘Many spandex-enhanced fabrics will stretch in both directions for maximum comfort.’
    • ‘But if you pull hard enough, the plastic holder stretches irreversibly and finally breaks apart.’
    • ‘He slung the now heavy bag over his shoulder, the thick fabric stretching.’
    • ‘Softer metals tend to stretch more easily, which explains the different factors in the formulas for different metals.’
    • ‘In Sejima's work, the envelope becomes fabric stretching between differently-sized slabs.’
    • ‘The jeans fit him fine, but the turtleneck was a little on the tight side as the fabric stretched across his upper torso.’
    • ‘If it is too cold, he says, the plastic will be loose in summer; If it is too warm, the plastic will stretch too tight in winter.’
    • ‘The clear glass stretched about 20 feet up, giving Arthur the most fantastic view he had ever seen.’
    • ‘The white cloth stretched and clung around the features of her body, yet loosely.’
    • ‘If you replace your laces with elastic you will be able to tie them up before you slip your feet into them; the elastic will stretch to enable your foot to go in but will still be tight enough to hold your shoes on comfortably.’
    • ‘In the exact middle of the room sat a long table that had the seating capacity of fifty, and was decorated with a long tablecloth of golden fabric stretching across it.’
    • ‘The cord stretches very thinly without breaking and if the yo-yo ball is swung about the head, the cord can wind tightly around the neck and throat, potentially causing strangulation.’
    • ‘Between the seven large towers of computer screens and CPUs you could see a dry-erase board stretching across the wall.’
    • ‘Ideally, the fabric would stretch out enough for you to see through without cutting any holes.’
    • ‘Celil peered up, and more ropes and wood stretched from tree to tree.’
    • ‘The blood vessels, now less elastic, can't stretch as well to accommodate the blood flow, so the pressure on artery walls increases.’
    • ‘Soft, springy materials like rubber and skin don't tear easily because they stretch before breaking apart.’
    • ‘Clothes to cocoon in will be soft and comfortable, stretching and retaining shape.’
    be elastic, be stretchy, be stretchable, be tensile
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[with object]Cause (something) to become longer or wider by pulling it.
      ‘stretch the elastic’
      ‘small squares of canvas were stretched over the bamboo frame’
      • ‘The second balloon is stretched over the first balloon to seal in the flour.’
      • ‘It feels like two and a half hours spent watching someone see how far they can stretch an elastic band without breaking it.’
      • ‘He wiped his palm across his face, stretching the elastic skin to a point and letting it fall back into place.’
      • ‘Immediately after the molt, the crab's new ‘soft shell’ is pliable and easily stretched.’
      • ‘The drums are constantly wetted to keep the fabric stretched.’
      • ‘The other half was wrapped around her daughter, stretched to breaking.’
      • ‘It is just a case of continually stretching the elastic band.’
      • ‘Blood vessels get stretched and can break, causing bleeding.’
      • ‘Bergson's third image is an elastic band being stretched.’
      • ‘Jess stretched the elastic band of Lucky's undergarment as far as possible.’
      • ‘Sleeves are stretched over the bottles in a continuous roll and cut to fit by four blades at a speed of 400 sleeves per minute.’
      • ‘He took the little hat from my hand, sneaking a glimpse out the window before stretching the elastic cord around his chin.’
      • ‘A cloth stretched over the board is given a coating of chalk powder mixed with a water-soluble adhesive.’
      • ‘Muscles are partially elastic so, like an elastic band, when stretched they create a passive tension.’
      • ‘The Rostrevor man's shirt was stretched and pulled by the Tyrone captain before Canavan bought the free with practised skill.’
      • ‘Then carpet is stretched over the top of the metal and tucked under the side of the Z-bar that is not secured.’
      • ‘The fabric mask is stretched over the face and pressed firmly in place.’
      • ‘I saw him examining fallen leaves, a freshly-painted door, and the way in which an elastic fabric deformed when stretched.’
      • ‘Let the elastics cool down while stretched, then let them shrink.’
      • ‘You can imagine the points as nails sticking out of a board with an elastic band stretched so that it rings the largest possible number of nails.’
      pull, pull out, draw out, extend, lengthen, elongate
      View synonyms
  • 2Straighten or extend one's body or a part of one's body to its full length, typically so as to tighten one's muscles or in order to reach something.

    ‘the cat yawned and stretched’
    [with object] ‘I stretched out a weary arm to turn on my radio’
    [with object] ‘stretching my cramped legs’
    ‘we lay stretched out on the sand’
    • ‘This area was cooler with more grass than plain dirt, making me want to stretch out on the soft carpet and stare at the stars.’
    • ‘If you are working, use the breaks during meetings to stretch or take a brisk walk up the indoor stairway.’
    • ‘Rolling over in her bed, Kirby turned off her alarm clock and stretched lazily under her soft, thick, and warm comforter.’
    • ‘He's more flexible and more capable of moving and stretching for passes.’
    • ‘Rhythmic, lulling movement, such as, gentle rocking, stretching, jiggling and soft pressure, is applied to the body.’
    • ‘So relaxed, or tired, was she that she settled down for a power nap, stretching out on the grass and resting her head on her kit bag.’
    • ‘I rolled over to stretch, reminding myself of Felix when he awoke from naps.’
    • ‘I got up from the rather cramped car and stretched out my muscles to give them some air.’
    • ‘Too many trainers dismiss stretching as something done by weekend toners, not hardcore bodybuilders.’
    • ‘We'd asked the car attendant to make up the lower berth, so Yoli could stretch out and take a nap.’
    • ‘But I still have to allocate time for stretching, napping and sleeping, and of course, my favorite, eating.’
    • ‘She stretched out her body, her muscles loosening up from the long flight of last night.’
    • ‘Mac stretched, rubbing the soft flesh of his stomach scraping dirty nails across a faded skull tattoo.’
    • ‘Paul sat up and stretched lazily while a soft chuckle escaped his lips.’
    • ‘She kept her eyes open, watching her body stretch out, elongate, and dissolve.’
    • ‘He lazily got up and stretched, his soft skin unmarked by bruises or scarring.’
    • ‘The best place to stretch and take a nap is in the open, in the lap of nature on a hammock.’
    • ‘David asked, stretching from a much - needed nap.’
    • ‘Allow yourself frequent practice breaks to stretch, take a walk down the hall or get a drink of water.’
    • ‘She stretched languidly on the soft feather bed and imagined the duke sitting there again, just watching her, smiling at the sight of her asleep.’
    extend, straighten, straighten out, unbend
    lie down, recline, lean back, be recumbent, be prostrate, be prone, sprawl, drape oneself, lounge, loll
    View synonyms
  • 3 Extend or spread over an area or period of time.

    ‘the beach stretches for over four miles’
    ‘the long hours of night stretched ahead of her’
    • ‘In the cold dawns of January and early February in Vermont, a semi-permanent thin white crust is stretched over the frozen ground.’
    • ‘The view was as impressive as one would expect, stretching out over Lake Ontario and revealing the hotchpotch way in which the city has grown.’
    • ‘The works of 20 composers will be stretched over eight concerts in a four-day festival.’
    • ‘The expansion is expected to create investment and jobs in towns stretching from Hull in the east to Preston in the west.’
    • ‘About half a million people are expected to turn up for the giant street party stretching 3 kilometers in the downtown shopping district.’
    • ‘The game itself is stretched over almost the entire running time of the film, interspersed with chunky flashbacks that replay key moments of Billy and Jane's life together.’
    • ‘These observations, we shall discover, had to be stretched over many years.’
    • ‘When Jane Hedges, a rural dean in Devon, arrives at Westminster in January she will break a male-only tradition stretching back 1,000 years.’
    • ‘I have a terrible memory and also this writing is stretched over a few weeks.’
    • ‘The series was stretched over a leisurely five hours, two hours longer than the 1967 version.’
    • ‘By 1930, no wetland and few trees were left in the region, and in many counties, cotton stretched from horizon to horizon.’
    • ‘They have the whole weekend stretching before them.’
    • ‘The weekend is over and you've got the whole week stretching out before you.’
    • ‘Inside the gate a carpet of bricks, plaster, glass, wood and office paper stretched around 40 feet to a crater which marked the epicentre of the explosion.’
    • ‘Winter in Madagascar is like summer here… hot days, warm nights which are to be expected on an island that stretches from the Tropic of Capricorn half way to the equator.’
    • ‘In fiscal terms, the number of near-death experiences in America's space program stretch back decades.’
    • ‘I was puzzled about how to eat the long and large segment of pig's bone positioned in the middle of the plate in front of me with a straw stretching into it.’
    • ‘They are simply stretched over a much longer period.’
    • ‘Did you know that if you laid all of Britain's credit and debt cards end-to-end, the line of plastic would stretch from London to Bangkok?’
    • ‘The ISS is expected to stretch 17 stories tall and house six research labs by its completion in 2008.’
    extend, spread, continue, range, unfold, unroll, be unbroken
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1Last or cause to last longer than expected.
      [no object] ‘her nap had stretched to two hours’
      [with object] ‘stretch your weekend into a mini summer vacation’
      • ‘The film stretches 20 minutes of ‘real time’ in the lives of its two protagonists into the 84 minutes of the film.’
      • ‘Stein's interim stint, expected to last two months, stretched to a year.’
      • ‘The minutes of silence stretched into hours as the sun climbed steadily overhead.’
      • ‘Conservative estimates are just for the day, but depending on what other cosmetic alterations she requires, it could stretch out for the whole weekend.’
      • ‘There are also plans to obtain extended drinking hours and a dance licence, so the weekend stretches out just that little bit longer.’
      • ‘The Games have thus begun in the worst conceivable manner, with an almighty drugs story dominating all headlines and now stretching beyond the weekend.’
      • ‘The precautionary effort was expected to stretch into this week.’
      • ‘He seems to have privately concluded that his team are unlikely to beat the Turkish champions, whose run of consecutive home wins stretched to 18 matches last weekend.’
      prolong, lengthen, make longer, extend, extend the duration of, draw out, spin out, protract
      View synonyms
    2. 3.2[no object](of finances or resources) be sufficient or adequate for a certain purpose.
      ‘my budget won't stretch to a weekend at a health farm’
      • ‘This is presently coupled with our mortgage company deciding they want the arrears paid off and money doesn't stretch in all directions at once.’
      • ‘Their life means juggling time with their children with long hours, unsociable shifts, and with a wage that won't stretch to pay for clothes, trainers and educational trips.’
      • ‘Arson, theft and criminal damage have all taken their toll on his allotment, and his pension cannot stretch to replacing yet more greenhouse windows, sheds, tools and crops.’
      • ‘Everybody realises that CDs should be cheaper, from people who know the background to teenyboppers who realise their pocket money doesn't stretch that far.’
      • ‘He completed the root canal begun by dentist number one only to announce that my insurance wouldn't stretch to a crown.’
      • ‘Surely her trust fund could stretch to a couple of quid.’
      • ‘‘I don't know if the club's finances will stretch to allow me to keep two keepers on the go,’ admitted the manager.’
      • ‘This is bad news for local first-time buyers whose salaries may not stretch to flats at £80,000 and upwards.’
      • ‘He had wanted to read medicine but family funds could not stretch to this, nor to veterinary science, his second choice.’
      • ‘With toys, stationery, games and sweets, pocket money can stretch that much further.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, they are self - funding, and no doubt those funds will stretch to establish more such schools.’
      • ‘Money doesn't stretch to going out every night but films, almost all of which are pirated, are cheap to buy.’
      • ‘Sadly, finances would not stretch to pay for her two children, Emma, 15, and Daniel, 13, and Paul's three grown-up children to go too.’
      • ‘It's often said that resources won't stretch to having a Garda on every street corner to maintain law and order.’
      • ‘Over the past two years, the costs of solar panels have almost halved - meaning the money will stretch even further.’
      • ‘We pay thousands of pounds in rent and you would think the council could stretch to some illuminations in the right place.’
      • ‘She is now worried that she'll be forced to make the pensioners pay more than their current 50p contribution which she fears they won't be able to stretch to.’
      • ‘We stopped wondering if we would fit, if the money would stretch, where I would get a job… none of that seemed important.’
      • ‘If you can stretch to the price this is a great speaker system.’
      • ‘Now officers had to either pay for the device or return it - and as the budget could not stretch to the purchase price they had requested contributions from parish councils.’
      be sufficient for, be enough for, cover, reach to
      View synonyms
  • 4[with object] Make great demands on the capacity or resources of.

    ‘the cost of the court case has stretched their finances to the limit’
    • ‘The airline's resources had been stretched to breaking point as it used its aircraft to evacuate passengers from Jamaica, Cuba and the Dominican Republic.’
    • ‘And that, in turn, could place major strains on an already stretched relief effort.’
    • ‘Even with plans to import labour from neighbouring countries, Government's plans will continue to put a strain on already stretched resources.’
    • ‘The Roscommon scenario may be somewhat of an exception but a number of other county boards appear extremely stretched in making ends meet.’
    • ‘Merrion expect this would stretch the team's operational capabilities.’
    • ‘The force's resources have been stretched by the night-time chaos, so no doubt they will be pleased to see the back of the club as it will allow them to spend time on other issues.’
    • ‘The city has had to find alternative accommodation for those rendered homeless by the process, thus putting a further strain on its already stretched budget.’
    • ‘But the longer this goes on the more stretched we will be in July when we expect the bulk of them to come in.’
    • ‘But the real issue is that important resources are being stretched.’
    • ‘Senior police are increasingly concerned that the amount of time officers are spending in court is pushing stretched resources to breaking point.’
    • ‘One was a loyalist, though his loyalty had been stretched over the past few days.’
    • ‘Military resources will be stretched during the expected conflict making it difficult to deploy troops to cover again for striking firemen and women.’
    • ‘As you know, there are some in New York who believe your resources are being stretched too thin in New York right now.’
    • ‘The volunteer doctors there are stretched to capacity and are too few, especially at the height of malaria season.’
    • ‘And police resources could be further stretched if there is a repeat of last year's illegal rave at Marloes on the August Bank Holiday weekend.’
    • ‘Resources could be stretched thin over a very expensive and potentially indefinite campaign.’
    • ‘Labour also fears resources will be stretched at a time when its membership is depleted.’
    • ‘Now, precious resources are being stretched even further.’
    • ‘From April it will be expected to find cash from an already stretched budget if it wants to keep the posts filled.’
    • ‘The Red Cross centre is currently a temporary home to 1,600 people trying to get to Britain and is stretched well beyond its capacity.’
    put a strain on, put great demands on, overtax, overextend, be too much for
    View synonyms
    1. 4.1Cause (someone) to make maximum use of their talents or abilities.
      ‘it's too easy—it doesn't stretch me’
      • ‘‘As we have said, if we get a few injuries it stretches us and that is certainly the case at the moment,’ he said.’
      • ‘It's a brilliant script that really stretches us all, but hopefully it'll be an exciting piece of theatre which is also full of meaty ideas.’
      • ‘I found it rewarding, educational and pretty full on - it really stretched me.’
      • ‘It's time to pull out the empty canvas and stretch your mind.’
      • ‘‘Everything has been good, even if it doesn't sound great, because it stretches you,’ Hall says.’
      • ‘‘I always look for roles that are going to stretch me,’ he says.’
      • ‘He brought you out of yourself, stretched you intellectually.’
      • ‘It stretched me as a person and opened my mind to many new parts of myself.’
      • ‘Considered the toughest event, the obstacle course is a test to the cadet's stamina and ability to stretch him beyond his limits.’
      • ‘In fact, women are being expected to stretch themselves until they become superwomen.’
      • ‘It was her psychotherapist who pointed out why that role stretched her so much.’
      • ‘Silsden were 3-0 up and able to use the wide-open spaces to stretch the ten men of Carlton.’
      • ‘I feel it's stretching me and I've only been here for one morning.’
      • ‘Apart from that, Motherwell controlled much of the play but apart from Steven Hammell's first-half free-kick they rarely stretched Alan Main.’
      • ‘It doesn't stretch us intellectually in any way.’
      • ‘However, the extent to which this exercise stretches me personally is a constant surprise.’
      • ‘Walking rather than driving on that short trip to the shops or school, using the stairs and trying to do gardening, sport or something slightly physically stretching at the weekend will help us stay healthy.’
      • ‘Martin said: ‘As soon as we got out there they started to really stretch us, but it was a case of pushing ourselves to the limit as well.’’
      • ‘‘Intellectually, theatre can stretch you as much as anything else’, he tells me earnestly.’
      • ‘He's been training and stretching me over past years - but is it enough?’
    2. 4.2informal Adapt or extend the scope of (something) in a way that exceeds a reasonable or acceptable limit.
      ‘to describe her as sweet would be stretching it a bit’
      • ‘You know, nothing hurts the truth like stretching it, and he stretched it just a lot.’
      • ‘‘This idea that Gordon rode into town on his white horse and saved the day is stretching it a bit,’ one source said.’
      • ‘Maybe that is stretching it a bit, but needless to say I was overmatched.’
      • ‘If I told you that, I would be stretching it a bit.’
      • ‘Now that's stretching it a bit, don't you agree?’
      • ‘So to say that somehow these projects were given to us is stretching it way beyond the truth.’
      • ‘True, one does encounter a couple of stray Marxists in humanities departments, but to say they run the show is stretching it a bit.’
      • ‘In my opinion, to conclude that the gesture represents some kind of favouritism for Rangers is stretching it.’
      • ‘Although 27 years might be stretching it a bit, I think I could make that sacrifice in this instance.’
      • ‘Or stretching it a bit further, it becomes more abstract as a thought.’
      bend, strain, distort
      View synonyms


  • 1An act of stretching one's limbs or body.

    ‘I got up and had a stretch’
    • ‘Full body stretches should also be done before using the ball.’
    • ‘Even if you can't bear the thought of the gym or an aerobics class, doing simple stretches at home can do a lot to help maintain strength, flexibility and a good range of joint movement.’
    • ‘Simple stretches and exercises are the order of the day, but the tots also learn the mechanics of their bodies, the importance of healthy eating and hygiene.’
    • ‘Reaching back, I held my body in a languorous stretch.’
    • ‘This session consists of a variety of gentle stretches or movements to help open your lungs, followed by breathing exercises and awareness practices.’
    • ‘In pre-training, stretches should be done slowly and with caution since your body has not completely warmed up.’
    • ‘It's more a form of qi gong than tai chi - meditative postures and simple stretches.’
    • ‘If we practice the stretches properly, pain will not occur…’
    • ‘Always take time to warm up before your primary activity and finish up with a long stretch while your body is still hot and elastic.’
    • ‘The new concept being to feel some good pain from the stretch then relaxing and letting go, softening the stretch and your general body tension.’
    • ‘Incorporating some simple stretches and breathing exercises into the daily routine could pave the way for a wonderful stress free life.’
    • ‘Relax the pectoral muscle and deepen the chest stretch by turning the body away from the arm for another count of 15 seconds.’
    • ‘He did a long stretch, and his body ached but he felt fully restored, and all he needed now was breakfast.’
    • ‘Body training consists of various gentle stretches and meditation postures to open the meridian lines.’
    • ‘She huffed, stood up, arched her back in a heavyweight stretch, turned to the fountain and started in on a long, long drink.’
    • ‘Do the apparatus-specific stretches, and if you have time, several more stretches for the body's other major muscle groups.’
    • ‘You should not push your stretches too far as you can cause yourself permanent injury.’
    • ‘Students may do simple stretches before a practice session, such as extending the arms overhead or doing a forward bend, to relax the muscles and focus the mind.’
    • ‘On certain long-distance flights, videos of simple stretches for passengers were being shown, he said.’
    • ‘The body stretches are often held for longer than those that might be employed by a shiatsu practitioner or massage therapist.’
    reach out, hold out, put out, extend, outstretch, thrust out, stick out
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[mass noun]The fact or condition of a muscle being stretched.
      ‘she could feel the stretch and pull of the muscles in her legs’
      • ‘Our results differ from those found in chondrocytes exposed to mechanical stretch.’
      • ‘In both models, circumferential microvascular stretch increased Nitrogen Oxide production in isolated lungs.’
      • ‘Recently it has been suggested that several different regions of titin might play a role in the sensing of stretch in muscle by binding various ligands.’
      • ‘With muscular pain, the pain sensation may be due to distension or stretch of the muscular walls or to transient ischemia of the muscle.’
      • ‘You should feel the stretch in the back of your legs.’
      • ‘Is the reduction in respiratory amplitude an effect of vagal inhibitory feedback from lung stretch?’
      • ‘This peptide is released by ventricular myocytes when heart failure causes increased wall stretch.’
      • ‘Turn right foot slightly outward, bend right knee over right foot until stretch is felt in inner thigh on left.’
      • ‘Look for a machine that allows the extra stretch for the best muscle development.’
      • ‘BNP is released by the left ventricle of the heart when it experiences ventricular overload and ventricular stretch.’
      • ‘The essential clinical feature of compartment syndrome in conscious patients is severe pain out of proportion to the injury, aggravated by passive muscle stretch.’
      • ‘Keeping your back straight, allow your upper body to lean forward until you feel a stretch in your chest and shoulders.’
      • ‘Muscle spindles and Golgi tendon organs are receptor organs found inside skeletal muscle, which are stimulated by stretch of the muscle or tension on the tendon.’
      • ‘Wounding of epithelial cells was dependent on the amplitude of stretch and on the rate of stretch.’
      • ‘Stimulation of these receptors by stretch or chemical agents triggers impulses along nonmyelinated vagal afferents.’
      • ‘Anal stretch was found to have a significantly higher risk of incontinence than controlled sphincterotomy in surgical trials and a higher risk of treatment failure.’
      • ‘Cyclical stretch has been shown to induce the release of various inflammatory mediators, which can lead to leukocyte adhesion in vitro.’
      • ‘The data presented in Fig.3 show that the filament 1.0 spacing decreased with stretch of the muscles.’
      • ‘The endothelial responses to circumferential vascular stretch are poorly defined.’
      • ‘As you start your forward movement with the lower body, feel the stretch in your upper body increase momentarily before the arms swing down.’
    2. 1.2[mass noun], [usually as modifier]The capacity of a material or garment to stretch or be stretched; elasticity.
      ‘stretch jeans’
      • ‘She wears stretch jeans and a white sweatshirt with glittery appliquéd gingham teddy bears.’
      • ‘I know too, that nylon and stretch elastic, cast aside by fishermen, catches around seabirds' legs and either slowly kills or maims them.’
      • ‘The beauty of stretch is that you can wear your jeans a lot tighter without sacrificing comfort.’
      • ‘Because of the fabric's stretch, all garment seams are stress seams.’
      • ‘She was wearing black stretch pants and a purple t-shirt.’
      • ‘As the material has less stretch, it is advisable to check with the bow manufacturer, if it can be used.’
      • ‘The new process allows three times as much stretch in the material before tearing, opening the door to more complex shapes in aluminum for automotive use.’
      • ‘We've got a full line, with pants, shirts, hats, our own stretch denim and a girls' line as well.’
      • ‘Becky had thrown her stretch jeans in there and I decided that it wouldn't hurt if I borrowed them just this once!’
      • ‘Finally, the elastic lost all its stretch and they ended up in a wad in the back of my closet, but I always loved those two shades of blue fabric.’
      • ‘In 1978 he created the first stretch jeans, utilizing a specially and produced innovative stretch indigo denim.’
      • ‘These stretch materials make the shorts fit perfectly, offer great support and look great too.’
      • ‘The knit's stretch and texture eliminate exact garment fitting and stitching techniques.’
      • ‘Care for hologram stretch knits by turning garments inside out and laundering them by hand; air dry.’
      • ‘A picture of a giraffe or a lion on quality stretch cotton material will also be an ideal choice.’
      • ‘The spandex in stretch jeans causes them to shrink more, but after a few minutes of wear, they'll be perfect again!’
      • ‘The slim cut stretch denim jeans envelop the contour of the female form like a second skin, giving a slim and seductive outline to the hip and legs.’
      • ‘New features like liquid tapped seams, high quality thin stretch rubber and integrated hoods have made winter surfing more enjoyable and more accessible.’
      stretchy, stretchable, elastic, elasticated
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3informal A difficult or demanding task.
      ‘it was a stretch for me to come up with the rent’
      • ‘It has been a huge stretch for my progressive little heart and soul.’
      • ‘I think any role is a balance between a stretch and knowing that you can do it.’
      • ‘Also, nobody on this team can make shots consistently from beyond 15 feet, and even that distance is a stretch.’
      • ‘Ensuring that her children are fed properly is a stretch.’
  • 2A continuous area or expanse of land or water.

    ‘a treacherous stretch of road’
    • ‘In 1992, it was the turn of a stretch of the Aravalli mountain ranges in Rajasthan and Haryana.’
    • ‘Windows of four buses were broken by branches as buses struggled to negotiate the narrow streets - although trees on the narrower stretches of the planned diversion route had been cut back.’
    • ‘He was referring to a flight of steps along a stretch of riverbank opposite Clohessy's Bar.’
    • ‘Highway engineers also plan to put up fencing along large stretches of the bypass to stop newts, badgers and foxes from straying onto the road.’
    • ‘Every piece of land, even a stretch of road, is probably subdivided into many lots.’
    • ‘Near Pensacola, long stretches of beachfront property look bombed out.’
    • ‘She has sailed round Cape Horn, one of the most treacherous stretches of water in the world, on a three-mast wooden ship.’
    • ‘Anglers wishing to tackle the stretch should take of the rapid rising tides and also are reminded that vehicles should not be taken down the bank until the hay has been cut.’
    • ‘But to get there you have to cross a treacherous stretch of water called Jack Sound.’
    • ‘Blackpool council has drawn up radical plans to turn its stretch of coastline, known as the Golden Mile, into what some have called the new Las Vegas of Europe.’
    • ‘The patch, in San Francisco Bay, was one of the most treacherous stretches of water on the Pacific coast.’
    • ‘Traffic on the main road was diverted on the Sunday night as the flood waters rose on a stretch of the road.’
    • ‘If you are in a helicopter, you will see a picturesque stretch of water with trees and huts like blobs of green and brown on a canvas of ochre-blue.’
    • ‘But what of the people it might displace, areas of fertile land that might become stretches of wasteland and even the water wars that might ensue?’
    • ‘Because this usually means hauling up other soil-stabilizing flora along with the moss, the practice turns vast stretches of poor soil into wasteland.’
    • ‘The sun breaks through the clouds every now and then, lighting up the silvery bodies of planes that cross the stretch of horizon visible through the window.’
    • ‘Most of the game is set in open expanses of water framed by nondescript stretches of land and changing weather conditions.’
    • ‘The areas are immense and the effect is the replacement of open land with vast stretches of water.’
    • ‘Once dug up, the stretch was never properly repaired again and it becomes flooded after every downpour, they say.’
    • ‘What did surprise us was the extent and the incredibly good condition of this large stretch of wall that was found here.’
    expanse, area, tract, belt, sweep, extent, spread, reach
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1A continuous period of time.
      ‘long stretches of time’
      • ‘Although the drug cannot curb progression of the disease, it can stimulate temporary normalcy of limb movement for long stretches in a day.’
      • ‘To try to see the events of those times in perspective across a such a vast stretch of time is difficult indeed.’
      • ‘The substitutions aside, the siege of the England goal continues with long stretches of French possession interrupted by the briefest of respites.’
      • ‘The former king is fondly remembered for the relative prosperity that marked his 40-year reign, the last stretch of peace the country has known.’
      • ‘Fahd, who rose to the throne in 1982, suffered short-term memory loss and an inability to concentrate for long stretches after his stroke in 1995.’
      • ‘Toronto continued their recent stretch of playing good ball by ending Orlando's three-game win streak with a convincing victory.’
      • ‘These were the last stretch of holidays left before she graduated, and after that, she intended to live in L.A.’
      • ‘The two switched roles in December while the team was in the midst of its worst stretch of the season.’
      • ‘Ryne Sandberg was the best second baseman in baseball for a ten-year stretch.’
      • ‘When I travel I drive for long stretches with the radio turned off.’
      • ‘The monotonous stretches of this concert package make it difficult to feel anything about him at all.’
      • ‘It'll be my first break in ten months - the longest stretch between holidays for years - and I can't wait.’
      • ‘The slump between New Year's Eve and Memorial Day is a long stretch with little to celebrate.’
      • ‘Whereas a literary scholar today might take, say, 1830 to 1900 as his or her specialist period, Auerbach's period stretches for almost three thousand years.’
      • ‘Phillip remained alone with his sister's body for an unbearable stretch of time.’
      • ‘They've had a lot of funding cuts and staff cuts, and as a result all the staff are doing these crazy stretches of double shifts.’
      • ‘The figure has stayed below the 2,000 mark in an unbroken stretch since July last year but continued to show some volatility into the first half of this year.’
      • ‘Alternate each lap with a pool-length stretch of easier freestyle swimming.’
      • ‘The Tories ruled for more than two - thirds of the time. Periods of progressive government were intervals in long stretches of Conservative rule.’
      • ‘They certainly don't deserve watching a judge turn his gaze away from the stage for long stretches of time while difficult routines are being strenuously performed.’
      period, time, spell, term, run, stint, session
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2informal A period of time spent in prison.
      ‘a four-year stretch for tax fraud’
      • ‘Its leaders, who were sentenced to long stretches in prison, declared the dissolution of the organisation.’
      • ‘He was a model prisoner during his three-year stretch in the Indiana State prison on the rape conviction.’
      • ‘His mother, a drug addict who had become a criminal to feed her habit, was doing a long stretch in prison.’
      • ‘A pervert who tried to lure young children into his car from the streets of York is facing a long stretch in prison.’
      • ‘He loves his children too much and he wouldn't risk a stretch in jail just because of him.’
      • ‘But it is Ted who ends up doing a stretch in prison.’
      • ‘Many of those who tuck guns in their waistbands and shoot up their neighborhoods hardly flinch at the prospect of doing a long stretch in prison if caught.’
      • ‘She isn't doing a lengthy stretch in Holloway Prison, but she may as well be.’
      • ‘The delay was caused by a 10-year stretch in a Louisiana prison for armed robbery.’
      • ‘The sad truth is that at 61, Fischer is right to question his own ability to survive a long stretch in prison.’
      prison sentence, sentence, prison term
      View synonyms
    3. 2.3North American A straight part of a racetrack, typically the home straight.
      ‘he made a promising start, but faded down the stretch’
      • ‘When the horses turn the final stretch, the spectators become more animated.’
      • ‘The four-year-old colt drove clear while opening a three-length lead entering the stretch.’
      • ‘Once he switched to his right lead in the stretch, I knew he was home.’
      • ‘It pressed the pace for most of the race, took the lead at the top of the stretch, but lost the race by half-a-length to a closer that snuck by on the inside.’
      • ‘He charged into the lead entering the stretch and drove with determination to the wire.’
    4. 2.4Sailing The distance covered on one tack.
      • ‘Saturday’s qualifying was a new experience for me as I blew the minute pin on the back stretch and had to cut the field and come back around the entire course.’
      • ‘In the front stretch, directly in front of the thousand of rabid race fans in attendance, Fox’s Pracer blew over coming down back on the bottom in an impressive 360 degree flip.’
  • 3informal A stretch limo.

    ‘a chauffeur-driven stretch’
    • ‘When he was appointed Archbishop of York, Hope was offered, in the way of bishops, a stretch Rover but turned it down.’
    • ‘Exiting through my front door, we were greeted by a white stretch limousine which I knew had created a great deal of drama between Greg and Robbie.’
    • ‘The girls, the musicians and I, were even treated to a stretch limousine ride to the theater and the show began.’
    • ‘They will arrive in stretch limousines and helicopters.’
    • ‘For its part, the planemaker has not committed to any such stretch tiltrotor beyond the artist's conception stage.’
    • ‘All of their friends had coupled off for the upcoming night and they had arranged to share a white stretch limousine.’
    • ‘Police believe she may have heard thieves trying to break into two high-value cars, including a stretch limousine belonging to her husband, outside their house in Wembley.’
    • ‘Another very interesting vehicle is the stretch Hummer limo.’
    • ‘A chance to be chauffeur driven in a stretch limousine to a romantic dinner for two is one of the lots on offer at an auction during the Mayor of Bolton's annual dinner and cabaret.’
    • ‘There were five Aussies in our stretch taxi and two Palestinians, our driver and our guide.’


  • at full stretch

    • 1With a part of one's body fully extended.

      ‘at the wheel was a short figure, arms at full stretch’
      • ‘It looked a certain winner but Freestone yet again produced the improbable to push the danger away at full stretch.’
      • ‘The rower drops the oar into the water coiled forward with his arms at full stretch.’
      • ‘I dropped down onto the now still fans, feeling horror when I accidentally trod on Ian's lifeless arm, then dangled myself at full stretch and dropped with a heavy thud to the floor.’
      • ‘It could have been worse - Fettis producing a fine one-handed save at full stretch to turn away a fierce Kevin Evans volley - and half-time couldn't come soon enough for City.’
      • ‘In the first match in Bombay, Jonty Rhodes effected two run-outs and took three catches, one of which was taken at full stretch, body at least four feet off the ground.’
      • ‘It looked an unpromising situation until the young striker produced an improvised overhead kick which had Bryn Halliwell at full stretch to turn the ball away.’
      • ‘It was particularly rough on Halliwell who moments earlier had been at full stretch to hold Hugh Robertson's 18-yard free kick which had looked destined for the bottom right-hand corner.’
      • ‘I turned around and saw another guard coming towards me with his arms at full stretch.’
      1. 1.1Using the maximum amount of one's resources or energy.
        ‘increased export business kept our production plants at full stretch’
        • ‘We went pretty close last season but for all three years that we have been involved in European football to a very decent level I think we are kind of at full stretch and I think what you are trying to add is that bit of extra quality.’
        • ‘The decision is widely seen as having dealt a serious blow to the joint bid by the Scottish and Irish football associations, which between them are at full stretch to deliver the eight suitable stadiums required to host the tournament.’
        • ‘‘The Environment Agency's resources are working at full stretch and due to an oversight the sluice was not closed,’ said a spokesman.’
        • ‘‘For all three years that we have been involved in European football to a very decent level, we have been at full stretch,’ said O'Neill that day.’
        • ‘Arsenal, at their leisure, mesmerised Charlton at full stretch.’
        • ‘It proves the artistic value of maintaining a company of actors long-term: here is a large cast, each member performing at full stretch, completely united to a common purpose.’
  • at a stretch

    • 1In one continuous period.

      ‘I often had to work for over twenty hours at a stretch’
      • ‘There are frequent outages, the generators trip, and it should come as no surprise to anyone that it is not the wealthy areas that have to do without electricity for eight hours at a stretch.’
      • ‘And for the next few days, the exhausted scientist slept almost round the clock, making up for the months when he often worked 36 hours at a stretch.’
      • ‘Of O'Hanlon, who is paying £50 a day for the privilege, they expect nothing except that he will stay in his bunk while they work, for up to 30 hours and more at a stretch.’
      • ‘In addition to the 18 hours a week she spends riding and lifting weights, she builds her own trails, laboring with shovel and pickax for six hours at a stretch.’
      • ‘Also, interns in hospitals often are made to work for more than 30 hours at a stretch - without any ‘real’ sleep breaks.’
      • ‘For those who prefer wearing jeans for long hours at a stretch, or wear a pair for several days while on a hike or holiday, a comfort fit or a relaxed fit could be far more comfortable than a regular fit or a tapering fit.’
      • ‘Nobody noticed that I didn't eat for eighteen or twenty hours at a stretch.’
      • ‘There are times I have practiced 10-11 hours at a stretch.’
      • ‘There is the possibility of continuous rain lashing the city for 10 hours or more at a stretch at least twice during this period.’
      • ‘At two points during my mission, I will wear blood pressure monitors on my arm and my fingers for twenty-four hours at a stretch.’
    • 2Only with difficulty or in extreme circumstances.

      ‘it is aimed at one age group, adults, or, at a stretch, business studies students’
      • ‘Now, had it not been, we would have done one of three things: moved somewhere else with a better primary, fiddled the system to get her into a good school in a different catchment area or, at a stretch, gone private.’
      • ‘One could, at a stretch, suggest that there are so few prisoners likely to be interested in voting that permitting it for those who do care would make no difference to any single election.’
      • ‘Its flexibility extends to its passengers too: it is capable of seating three people comfortably and four at a stretch, and is intended to make the point that it is wasteful to own a larger car when a smaller one will do.’
      • ‘One could, at a stretch, defend Moore by saying that while he might think the average Joe puts himself at more risk by owning a gun, trained bodyguards who undoubtedly know how to use them make people safer.’
      • ‘Mr Hoult said that at a stretch, local authorities could cope with a disaster on the scale of Lockerbie.’
      • ‘Instead the prevailing feeling is of woodiness, of being in a lofty barn or, at a stretch, a medieval great hall.’
      • ‘Don't get me wrong - I'm all for posthumanity, and thus at a stretch prehumanity as construct.’
      • ‘Yet, at a stretch, your verse reads as a kind of continuous narrative of self.’
      • ‘From what I understand she was born in India and didn't come here until she was 14, so even at a stretch we cannot claim she was Scottish born and bred.’
  • by no (or not by any) stretch of the imagination

    • Used to emphasize that something is definitely not the case.

      ‘by no stretch of the imagination could Carl ever be called good-looking’
      • ‘Wood dismissed this notion when he wrote of Dala, ‘Though a large fire, it was circumscribed, and by no stretch of the imagination could it be associated with a bush fire.’’
      • ‘The birds almost lifted the mood but their communications could be described by no stretch of the imagination as song, sounding more like a smoke alarm running out of batteries.’
      • ‘The numbers of counsellors available are not by any stretch of the imagination meeting demand.’
      • ‘His name appears nowhere within the text of the article and it is not by any stretch of the imagination an attack piece.’
      • ‘They are not by any stretch of the imagination part of a calorie-controlled diet.’
      • ‘Given these circumstances, by no stretch of the imagination could anyone claim that the decision to take the cheque was a decision that the seafarers made of their own free will and choice.’
      • ‘But by no stretch of the imagination can these mistakes be described as gross negligence.’
      • ‘We haven't seen the best of him, not by any stretch of the imagination, because he has still to get more match fitness and a lot more comfortable.’
      • ‘The flaw in the vision is that by no stretch of the imagination can any parent claim to be representative of any other parent.’
      • ‘It wasn't perfect, of course - not by any stretch of the imagination.’
  • stretch one's legs

    • Go for a short walk after sitting in one place for some time.

      ‘there is an hour's stop in Sudbury for everyone to stretch their legs’
      • ‘I too wanted to stretch my legs and walk around a little just to fit in and look the same as the rest of the people that crowded around us.’
      • ‘While trying to make small talk, I watch as he stretches his legs, walking between window and chair, clutching a pack of cigarettes.’
      • ‘Early spring breakers are walking the beaches or stretching their legs on Cashel Mountain.’
      • ‘At the end of the day, I'd get off the bus a couple of stops early and walk home just to stretch my legs.’
      • ‘When she finished making her sandwich she decided to go for a walk to stretch her legs while she ate.’
      • ‘What the younger lot should remember is that there is no question of sitting up and stretching your legs at any point of time.’
      • ‘Also, if you do spend hours each day in a chair, make sure you take a break from sitting - walk around, stretch your legs, make sure the circulation in your body is not becoming stagnant.’
      • ‘‘After lunch, he went out for a walk to stretch his legs as he usually does,’ Janice told the New York Times yesterday.’
      • ‘Dropping them off at the motor coach, she decided to take a walk and stretch her legs.’
      • ‘When I awoke, it was already dark, but I fancied stretching my legs so I started walking and didn't stop until I reached here.’
      go for a walk, take a walk, go for a stroll, walk, stroll, move about, promenade, get some exercise, get some air, take the air
      View synonyms
  • stretch a point

    • Allow or do something not usually acceptable.

      ‘since your daughter is one of my regular patients, I'm stretching a point’
      • ‘My companion's pan-fried fillet of wild sea bass with herb vermicelli and confit tomato jus seemed to pass muster, though I suspect describing it as ‘wild’ was stretching a point.’
      • ‘While it would be stretching a point to say the government is benefiting from a ‘feelgood factor’, there is no ‘feelbad factor’ either.’
      • ‘To claim the better team lost would be stretching a point, but what is indisputable is that Third Division Brechin emerged from this game with considerably more credit than Rangers.’
      • ‘And - to stretch a point - there are three exotic takes on Scottish history.’
      • ‘To call it essential, however, may be stretching a point - a good deal of this information exists in other volumes and online.’
      • ‘Certainly, young players need far more and better conditioning than club rugby can ever offer them, but to claim that the pinnacle of the club game in Scotland is irrelevant to the professional ranks seems to be stretching a point.’
      • ‘Pardon me stretching a point, but if an ordinary restaurant diner can be expected to recognise an organised crime type, why can't the police?’
      • ‘This may be stretching a point, but it does underline how bluntly the race card figures in the current conflict.’
      • ‘Yet he was stretching a point, since Aberdeen showed more composure in the game's key moments.’
      • ‘But it really stretches a point to include Heidegger in a book about political correctness.’
  • stretch one's wings


Old English streccan, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch strekken and German strecken. The noun dates from the late 16th century.