Definition of stretch in US English:



[no object]
  • 1(of something soft or elastic) be made or be capable of being made longer or wider without tearing or breaking.

    ‘my sweater stretched in the wash’
    ‘rubber will stretch easily when pulled’
    • ‘Softer metals tend to stretch more easily, which explains the different factors in the formulas for different metals.’
    • ‘The white cloth stretched and clung around the features of her body, yet loosely.’
    • ‘Soft, springy materials like rubber and skin don't tear easily because they stretch before breaking apart.’
    • ‘He slung the now heavy bag over his shoulder, the thick fabric stretching.’
    • ‘Between the seven large towers of computer screens and CPUs you could see a dry-erase board stretching across the wall.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Some of the samples were oriented by PVA film stretching.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But if you pull hard enough, the plastic holder stretches irreversibly and finally breaks apart.’
    • ‘Many spandex-enhanced fabrics will stretch in both directions for maximum comfort.’
    • ‘In Sejima's work, the envelope becomes fabric stretching between differently-sized slabs.’
    • ‘Celil peered up, and more ropes and wood stretched from tree to tree.’
    • ‘The jeans fit him fine, but the turtleneck was a little on the tight side as the fabric stretched across his upper torso.’
    • ‘The clear glass stretched about 20 feet up, giving Arthur the most fantastic view he had ever seen.’
    • ‘Clothes to cocoon in will be soft and comfortable, stretching and retaining shape.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Ideally, the fabric would stretch out enough for you to see through without cutting any holes.’
    • ‘The blood vessels, now less elastic, can't stretch as well to accommodate the blood flow, so the pressure on artery walls increases.’
    be elastic, be stretchy, be stretchable, be tensile
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    1. 1.1with object Cause (something) to become longer or wider by pulling it.
      ‘stretch the elastic’
      ‘small squares of canvas were stretched over the bamboo frame’
      • ‘It is just a case of continually stretching the elastic band.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The Rostrevor man's shirt was stretched and pulled by the Tyrone captain before Canavan bought the free with practised skill.’
      • ‘Bergson's third image is an elastic band being stretched.’
      • ‘The fabric mask is stretched over the face and pressed firmly in place.’
      • ‘Then carpet is stretched over the top of the metal and tucked under the side of the Z-bar that is not secured.’
      • ‘The drums are constantly wetted to keep the fabric stretched.’
      • ‘He took the little hat from my hand, sneaking a glimpse out the window before stretching the elastic cord around his chin.’
      • ‘Muscles are partially elastic so, like an elastic band, when stretched they create a passive tension.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Blood vessels get stretched and can break, causing bleeding.’
      • ‘He wiped his palm across his face, stretching the elastic skin to a point and letting it fall back into place.’
      • ‘It feels like two and a half hours spent watching someone see how far they can stretch an elastic band without breaking it.’
      • ‘Immediately after the molt, the crab's new ‘soft shell’ is pliable and easily stretched.’
      • ‘Jess stretched the elastic band of Lucky's undergarment as far as possible.’
      • ‘A cloth stretched over the board is given a coating of chalk powder mixed with a water-soluble adhesive.’
      • ‘I saw him examining fallen leaves, a freshly-painted door, and the way in which an elastic fabric deformed when stretched.’
      • ‘The second balloon is stretched over the first balloon to seal in the flour.’
      • ‘The other half was wrapped around her daughter, stretched to breaking.’
      pull, pull out, draw out, extend, lengthen, elongate
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  • 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 ‘stretching my cramped legs’
    ‘we lay stretched out on the sand’
    • ‘Allow yourself frequent practice breaks to stretch, take a walk down the hall or get a drink of water.’
    • ‘Rolling over in her bed, Kirby turned off her alarm clock and stretched lazily under her soft, thick, and warm comforter.’
    • ‘He lazily got up and stretched, his soft skin unmarked by bruises or scarring.’
    • ‘He's more flexible and more capable of moving and stretching for passes.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The best place to stretch and take a nap is in the open, in the lap of nature on a hammock.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But I still have to allocate time for stretching, napping and sleeping, and of course, my favorite, eating.’
    • ‘We'd asked the car attendant to make up the lower berth, so Yoli could stretch out and take a nap.’
    • ‘I got up from the rather cramped car and stretched out my muscles to give them some air.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She kept her eyes open, watching her body stretch out, elongate, and dissolve.’
    • ‘Mac stretched, rubbing the soft flesh of his stomach scraping dirty nails across a faded skull tattoo.’
    • ‘Too many trainers dismiss stretching as something done by weekend toners, not hardcore bodybuilders.’
    • ‘I rolled over to stretch, reminding myself of Felix when he awoke from naps.’
    • ‘Paul sat up and stretched lazily while a soft chuckle escaped his lips.’
    • ‘David asked, stretching from a much - needed nap.’
    • ‘If you are working, use the breaks during meetings to stretch or take a brisk walk up the indoor stairway.’
    • ‘Rhythmic, lulling movement, such as, gentle rocking, stretching, jiggling and soft pressure, is applied to the body.’
    • ‘She stretched out her body, her muscles loosening up from the long flight of last night.’
    extend, straighten, straighten out, unbend
    lie down, recline, lean back, be recumbent, be prostrate, be prone, sprawl, drape oneself, lounge, loll
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  • 3Extend 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’
    • ‘They have the whole weekend stretching before them.’
    • ‘In the cold dawns of January and early February in Vermont, a semi-permanent thin white crust is stretched over the frozen ground.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘In fiscal terms, the number of near-death experiences in America's space program stretch back decades.’
    • ‘About half a million people are expected to turn up for the giant street party stretching 3 kilometers in the downtown shopping district.’
    • ‘I have a terrible memory and also this writing is stretched over a few weeks.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘By 1930, no wetland and few trees were left in the region, and in many counties, cotton stretched from horizon to horizon.’
    • ‘The weekend is over and you've got the whole week stretching out before you.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The expansion is expected to create investment and jobs in towns stretching from Hull in the east to Preston in the west.’
    • ‘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 ISS is expected to stretch 17 stories tall and house six research labs by its completion in 2008.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The series was stretched over a leisurely five hours, two hours longer than the 1967 version.’
    • ‘The works of 20 composers will be stretched over eight concerts in a four-day festival.’
    extend, spread, continue, range, unfold, unroll, be unbroken
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    1. 3.1 Last or cause to last longer than expected.
      ‘her nap had stretched to two hours’
      with object ‘stretch your weekend into a mini summer vacation’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The precautionary effort was expected to stretch into this week.’
      • ‘The film stretches 20 minutes of ‘real time’ in the lives of its two protagonists into the 84 minutes of the film.’
      prolong, lengthen, make longer, extend, extend the duration of, draw out, spin out, protract
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  • 4with object Make great demands on the capacity or resources of.

    ‘the cost of the court case has stretched their finances to the limit’
    • ‘Senior police are increasingly concerned that the amount of time officers are spending in court is pushing stretched resources to breaking point.’
    • ‘The volunteer doctors there are stretched to capacity and are too few, especially at the height of malaria season.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Now, precious resources are being stretched even further.’
    • ‘Military resources will be stretched during the expected conflict making it difficult to deploy troops to cover again for striking firemen and women.’
    • ‘And that, in turn, could place major strains on an already stretched relief effort.’
    • ‘One was a loyalist, though his loyalty had been stretched over the past few days.’
    • ‘Merrion expect this would stretch the team's operational capabilities.’
    • ‘As you know, there are some in New York who believe your resources are being stretched too thin in New York right now.’
    • ‘Labour also fears resources will be stretched at a time when its membership is depleted.’
    • ‘Resources could be stretched thin over a very expensive and potentially indefinite campaign.’
    • ‘But the real issue is that important resources are being stretched.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 Roscommon scenario may be somewhat of an exception but a number of other county boards appear extremely stretched in making ends meet.’
    • ‘But the longer this goes on the more stretched we will be in July when we expect the bulk of them to come in.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Even with plans to import labour from neighbouring countries, Government's plans will continue to put a strain on already stretched resources.’
    put a strain on, put great demands on, overtax, overextend, be too much for
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    1. 4.1 Cause (someone) to make maximum use of their talents or abilities.
      ‘it's too easy—it doesn't stretch me’
      • ‘It was her psychotherapist who pointed out why that role stretched her so much.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Considered the toughest event, the obstacle course is a test to the cadet's stamina and ability to stretch him beyond his limits.’
      • ‘Silsden were 3-0 up and able to use the wide-open spaces to stretch the ten men of Carlton.’
      • ‘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.’’
      • ‘He's been training and stretching me over past years - but is it enough?’
      • ‘‘As we have said, if we get a few injuries it stretches us and that is certainly the case at the moment,’ he said.’
      • ‘I feel it's stretching me and I've only been here for one morning.’
      • ‘However, the extent to which this exercise stretches me personally is a constant surprise.’
      • ‘It's time to pull out the empty canvas and stretch your mind.’
      • ‘It doesn't stretch us intellectually in any way.’
      • ‘‘Everything has been good, even if it doesn't sound great, because it stretches you,’ Hall says.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In fact, women are being expected to stretch themselves until they become superwomen.’
      • ‘It stretched me as a person and opened my mind to many new parts of myself.’
      • ‘He brought you out of yourself, stretched you intellectually.’
      • ‘I found it rewarding, educational and pretty full on - it really stretched me.’
      • ‘‘I always look for roles that are going to stretch me,’ he says.’
      • ‘Apart from that, Motherwell controlled much of the play but apart from Steven Hammell's first-half free-kick they rarely stretched Alan Main.’
      • ‘‘Intellectually, theatre can stretch you as much as anything else’, he tells me earnestly.’
    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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘True, one does encounter a couple of stray Marxists in humanities departments, but to say they run the show is stretching it a bit.’
      • ‘‘This idea that Gordon rode into town on his white horse and saved the day is stretching it a bit,’ one source said.’
      • ‘Or stretching it a bit further, it becomes more abstract as a thought.’
      • ‘You know, nothing hurts the truth like stretching it, and he stretched it just a lot.’
      • ‘So to say that somehow these projects were given to us is stretching it way beyond the truth.’
      • ‘Now that's stretching it a bit, don't you agree?’
      bend, strain, distort
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  • 1An act of stretching one's limbs or body.

    ‘I got up and had a stretch’
    • ‘He did a long stretch, and his body ached but he felt fully restored, and all he needed now was breakfast.’
    • ‘On certain long-distance flights, videos of simple stretches for passengers were being shown, he said.’
    • ‘Body training consists of various gentle stretches and meditation postures to open the meridian lines.’
    • ‘If we practice the stretches properly, pain will not occur…’
    • ‘She huffed, stood up, arched her back in a heavyweight stretch, turned to the fountain and started in on a long, long drink.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Do the apparatus-specific stretches, and if you have time, several more stretches for the body's other major muscle groups.’
    • ‘Reaching back, I held my body in a languorous stretch.’
    • ‘In pre-training, stretches should be done slowly and with caution since your body has not completely warmed up.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Relax the pectoral muscle and deepen the chest stretch by turning the body away from the arm for another count of 15 seconds.’
    • ‘Full body stretches should also be done before using the ball.’
    • ‘Incorporating some simple stretches and breathing exercises into the daily routine could pave the way for a wonderful stress free life.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The body stretches are often held for longer than those that might be employed by a shiatsu practitioner or massage therapist.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘You should not push your stretches too far as you can cause yourself permanent injury.’
    • ‘It's more a form of qi gong than tai chi - meditative postures and simple stretches.’
    • ‘This session consists of a variety of gentle stretches or movements to help open your lungs, followed by breathing exercises and awareness practices.’
    reach out, hold out, put out, extend, outstretch, thrust out, stick out
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    1. 1.1 The fact or condition of a muscle being stretched.
      ‘she could feel the stretch and pull of the muscles in her legs’
      • ‘The essential clinical feature of compartment syndrome in conscious patients is severe pain out of proportion to the injury, aggravated by passive muscle stretch.’
      • ‘This peptide is released by ventricular myocytes when heart failure causes increased wall stretch.’
      • ‘Our results differ from those found in chondrocytes exposed to mechanical stretch.’
      • ‘As you start your forward movement with the lower body, feel the stretch in your upper body increase momentarily before the arms swing down.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In both models, circumferential microvascular stretch increased Nitrogen Oxide production in isolated lungs.’
      • ‘The data presented in Fig.3 show that the filament 1.0 spacing decreased with stretch of the muscles.’
      • ‘With muscular pain, the pain sensation may be due to distension or stretch of the muscular walls or to transient ischemia of the muscle.’
      • ‘Stimulation of these receptors by stretch or chemical agents triggers impulses along nonmyelinated vagal afferents.’
      • ‘Cyclical stretch has been shown to induce the release of various inflammatory mediators, which can lead to leukocyte adhesion in vitro.’
      • ‘Wounding of epithelial cells was dependent on the amplitude of stretch and on the rate of stretch.’
      • ‘Turn right foot slightly outward, bend right knee over right foot until stretch is felt in inner thigh on left.’
      • ‘BNP is released by the left ventricle of the heart when it experiences ventricular overload and ventricular stretch.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Is the reduction in respiratory amplitude an effect of vagal inhibitory feedback from lung stretch?’
      • ‘The endothelial responses to circumferential vascular stretch are poorly defined.’
      • ‘Look for a machine that allows the extra stretch for the best muscle development.’
      • ‘You should feel the stretch in the back of your legs.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 1.2Baseball A phase of a pitcher's delivery, during which the arms are raised above and behind the head.
      • ‘The coaches believe Dual has been rushing his delivery from the stretch, causing him to leave the ball up in the strike zone.’
      • ‘During the seventh inning stretch, we went for the kill.’
      • ‘To do a pitcher's internal-rotator stretch, extend your arms out from your sides and raise your forearms, palms facing in front of you.’
      • ‘Besides rushing his delivery in the stretch, his left shoulder is flying open as he throws.’
      • ‘To enhance the stretch, push gently above the knee on the outside of the leg, with the non-stretch leg hand.’
    3. 1.3Baseball A shortened form of a pitcher's windup, typically used to prevent base runners from stealing or gaining a long lead.
      • ‘Gonzalez cut down seven of eight would-be base stealers during one stretch.’
      • ‘The left-hander holds runners at first more effectively than right-handers because he faces the base from the stretch.’
      • ‘And he has quickened his delivery off the stretch to do a better job of holding runners.’
      • ‘So he abandons the windup and pitches exclusively from the stretch.’
    4. 1.4usually as modifier The capacity of a material or garment to stretch or be stretched; elasticity.
      ‘stretch jeans’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A picture of a giraffe or a lion on quality stretch cotton material will also be an ideal choice.’
      • ‘I know too, that nylon and stretch elastic, cast aside by fishermen, catches around seabirds' legs and either slowly kills or maims them.’
      • ‘She was wearing black stretch pants and a purple t-shirt.’
      • ‘Because of the fabric's stretch, all garment seams are stress seams.’
      • ‘The spandex in stretch jeans causes them to shrink more, but after a few minutes of wear, they'll be perfect again!’
      • ‘New features like liquid tapped seams, high quality thin stretch rubber and integrated hoods have made winter surfing more enjoyable and more accessible.’
      • ‘Becky had thrown her stretch jeans in there and I decided that it wouldn't hurt if I borrowed them just this once!’
      • ‘In 1978 he created the first stretch jeans, utilizing a specially and produced innovative stretch indigo denim.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘As the material has less stretch, it is advisable to check with the bow manufacturer, if it can be used.’
      • ‘We've got a full line, with pants, shirts, hats, our own stretch denim and a girls' line as well.’
      • ‘Care for hologram stretch knits by turning garments inside out and laundering them by hand; air dry.’
      • ‘The beauty of stretch is that you can wear your jeans a lot tighter without sacrificing comfort.’
      • ‘The knit's stretch and texture eliminate exact garment fitting and stitching techniques.’
      • ‘These stretch materials make the shorts fit perfectly, offer great support and look great too.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She wears stretch jeans and a white sweatshirt with glittery appliquéd gingham teddy bears.’
      stretchy, stretchable, elastic, elasticated
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    5. 1.5informal A difficult or demanding task.
      ‘it was a stretch for me sometimes to come up with the rent’
      • ‘Ensuring that her children are fed properly is a stretch.’
      • ‘Also, nobody on this team can make shots consistently from beyond 15 feet, and even that distance is a stretch.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 2A continuous area or expanse of land or water.

    ‘a treacherous stretch of road’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In 1992, it was the turn of a stretch of the Aravalli mountain ranges in Rajasthan and Haryana.’
    • ‘She has sailed round Cape Horn, one of the most treacherous stretches of water in the world, on a three-mast wooden ship.’
    • ‘Near Pensacola, long stretches of beachfront property look bombed out.’
    • ‘Once dug up, the stretch was never properly repaired again and it becomes flooded after every downpour, they say.’
    • ‘But to get there you have to cross a treacherous stretch of water called Jack Sound.’
    • ‘He was referring to a flight of steps along a stretch of riverbank opposite Clohessy's Bar.’
    • ‘Every piece of land, even a stretch of road, is probably subdivided into many lots.’
    • ‘Because this usually means hauling up other soil-stabilizing flora along with the moss, the practice turns vast stretches of poor soil into wasteland.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘Traffic on the main road was diverted on the Sunday night as the flood waters rose on a stretch of the road.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Most of the game is set in open expanses of water framed by nondescript stretches of land and changing weather conditions.’
    • ‘The patch, in San Francisco Bay, was one of the most treacherous stretches of water on the Pacific coast.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The areas are immense and the effect is the replacement of open land with vast stretches of water.’
    • ‘What did surprise us was the extent and the incredibly good condition of this large stretch of wall that was found here.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    expanse, area, tract, belt, sweep, extent, spread, reach
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    1. 2.1 A continuous period of time.
      ‘long stretches of time’
      • ‘To try to see the events of those times in perspective across a such a vast stretch of time is difficult indeed.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Although the drug cannot curb progression of the disease, it can stimulate temporary normalcy of limb movement for long stretches in a day.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Alternate each lap with a pool-length stretch of easier freestyle swimming.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The Tories ruled for more than two - thirds of the time. Periods of progressive government were intervals in long stretches of Conservative rule.’
      • ‘Phillip remained alone with his sister's body for an unbearable stretch of time.’
      • ‘These were the last stretch of holidays left before she graduated, and after that, she intended to live in L.A.’
      • ‘When I travel I drive for long stretches with the radio turned off.’
      • ‘It'll be my first break in ten months - the longest stretch between holidays for years - and I can't wait.’
      • ‘Toronto continued their recent stretch of playing good ball by ending Orlando's three-game win streak with a convincing victory.’
      • ‘The monotonous stretches of this concert package make it difficult to feel anything about him at all.’
      • ‘The substitutions aside, the siege of the England goal continues with long stretches of French possession interrupted by the briefest of respites.’
      • ‘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
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    2. 2.2informal A period of time spent in prison.
      ‘a four-year stretch for tax fraud’
      • ‘The delay was caused by a 10-year stretch in a Louisiana prison for armed robbery.’
      • ‘A pervert who tried to lure young children into his car from the streets of York is facing a long stretch in prison.’
      • ‘He was a model prisoner during his three-year stretch in the Indiana State prison on the rape conviction.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He loves his children too much and he wouldn't risk a stretch in jail just because of him.’
      • ‘Its leaders, who were sentenced to long stretches in prison, declared the dissolution of the organisation.’
      • ‘His mother, a drug addict who had become a criminal to feed her habit, was doing a long stretch in prison.’
      • ‘The sad truth is that at 61, Fischer is right to question his own ability to survive a long stretch in prison.’
      • ‘But it is Ted who ends up doing a stretch in prison.’
      prison sentence, sentence, prison term
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    3. 2.3North American A straight part of a racetrack, typically the homestretch.
      ‘he made a promising start, but faded down the stretch’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He charged into the lead entering the stretch and drove with determination to the wire.’
      • ‘When the horses turn the final stretch, the spectators become more animated.’
    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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘When he was appointed Archbishop of York, Hope was offered, in the way of bishops, a stretch Rover but turned it down.’
    • ‘There were five Aussies in our stretch taxi and two Palestinians, our driver and our guide.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The girls, the musicians and I, were even treated to a stretch limousine ride to the theater and the show began.’
    • ‘All of their friends had coupled off for the upcoming night and they had arranged to share a white stretch limousine.’


  • at a stretch

    • In one continuous period.

      ‘I often had to work for over twenty 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.’
      • ‘There is the possibility of continuous rain lashing the city for 10 hours or more at a stretch at least twice during this period.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Nobody noticed that I didn't eat for eighteen or twenty hours at a stretch.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Also, interns in hospitals often are made to work for more than 30 hours at a stretch - without any ‘real’ sleep breaks.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There are times I have practiced 10-11 hours at a stretch.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 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’
      • ‘It wasn't perfect, of course - not by any stretch of the imagination.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘His name appears nowhere within the text of the article and it is not by any stretch of the imagination an attack piece.’
      • ‘The flaw in the vision is that by no stretch of the imagination can any parent claim to be representative of any other parent.’
      • ‘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.’’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘They are not by any stretch of the imagination part of a calorie-controlled diet.’
  • stretch one's legs

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

      • ‘Early spring breakers are walking the beaches or stretching their legs on Cashel Mountain.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Dropping them off at the motor coach, she decided to take a walk and stretch her legs.’
      • ‘When she finished making her sandwich she decided to go for a walk to stretch her legs while she ate.’
      • ‘‘After lunch, he went out for a walk to stretch his legs as he usually does,’ Janice told the New York Times yesterday.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘What the younger lot should remember is that there is no question of sitting up and stretching your legs at any point of time.’
      • ‘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 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


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