\ ˈstrech \
stretched; stretching; stretches

Definition of stretch 

(Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to extend (one's limbs, one's body, etc.) in a reclining position

2 : to reach out : extend stretched out her arms

3 : to extend in length stretched his neck to see what was going on

4 : to fell with or as if with a blow

5 : to cause the limbs of (a person) to be pulled especially in torture

6 : to draw up (one's body) from a cramped, stooping, or relaxed position

7 : to pull taut canvas stretched on a frame

8a : to enlarge or distend especially by force

b : to extend or expand as if by physical force stretch one's mind with a good book

c : strain stretched his already thin patience

9 : to cause to reach or continue (as from one point to another or across a space) stretch a wire between two posts

10a : to amplify or enlarge beyond natural or proper limits the rules can be stretched this once

b : to expand (as by improvisation) to fulfill a larger function stretching a dollar

11 : to extend (a hit) to an extra base usually by fast or daring running stretch a single into a double

intransitive verb

1a : to become extended in length or breadth or both : spread broad plains stretching to the sea

b : to extend over a continuous period the dynasty stretches back several centuries

2 : to become extended without breaking

3a : to extend one's body or limbs stretched before jogging wanted to stretch out on the sofa

b : to lie down at full length

stretch a point

: to go beyond what is strictly warranted in making a claim or concession

stretch one's legs

1 : to extend the legs

2 : to take a walk in order to relieve stiffness caused by prolonged sitting



Definition of stretch (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : an exercise of something (such as the understanding or the imagination) beyond ordinary or normal limits their conclusion seemed like a bit of a stretch

b : an extension of the scope or application of something a stretch of language

2 : the extent to which something may be stretched

3a : the act of stretching : the state of being stretched a good stretch for legs

b : the position of a pitcher standing sideways to home plate so as to keep a runner close to a base pitching from the stretch

4a : an extent in length or area an open stretch of road

b : a continuous period of time can write for eight hours at a stretch

5 : a walk to relieve fatigue

6 : a term of imprisonment served a 10-year stretch

7a : either of the straight sides of a racecourse especially : homestretch

b : a final stage (as of a contest or season) won some crucial games down the stretch

8 : the capacity for being stretched : elasticity a waistband with lots of stretch

9 : a stretch limousine



Definition of stretch (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : easily stretched : elastic a stretch wig

2 : longer than the standard size a stretch limousine

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Other words from stretch


stretchability \ˌstre-chə-ˈbi-lə-tē \ noun
stretchable \ˈstre-chə-bəl \ adjective
stretchy \ˈstre-chē \ adjective

Examples of stretch in a Sentence


Don't yank on my sweater. You'll stretch it. The elastic waistband of my pants won't stretch any more. It's important to stretch before you exercise. The baby stretched and yawned. She woke up and stretched her arms above her head. She stretched over us to open the window. She stretched her hand toward him. She stretched the canvas over the wooden frame. The T-shirt was stretched tight over his belly. A big banner was stretched across the doorway.


a 60-mile stretch of beach an open stretch of highway These are good stretches for your leg muscles. I always spend a few minutes doing stretches before I exercise. I can feel the stretch in the back of my legs.


stretch fabrics that don't wrinkle or sag
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Shaina Gross, president of Susan G. Komen San Diego, said that because monitoring and treatment periods stretch up to a decade into the past, the number of women or men who could potentially benefit from dropping caps could be in the thousands. Paul Sisson,, "Komen, Atkins celebrate elimination of cancer treatment limits," 13 July 2018 And a case can be made that the mistakes involving Miller didn’t end for the Diamondbacks with that original trade – and that those mistakes stretched into the most recent offseason. Nick Piecoro, azcentral, "Arizona Diamondbacks' Shelby Miller trade still haunting them," 13 July 2018 Like the Spetsnaz, the military’s signals intelligence units have a storied history stretching deep into the Cold War. Andrew E. Kramer, New York Times, "G.R.U., Russian Spy Agency Cited by Mueller, Casts a Long Shadow," 13 July 2018 If the previous three years stretch into a fourth, well, 31st sounds possible. Dave Hyde,, "Hyde5: More, uh, motivation as Dolphins RBs, WRs, rated 31st," 12 July 2018 England will still fancy their chances, especially if the pace of Raheem Sterling, Jesse Lingard and others can stretch the game and pressure Croatian midfielders and defenders into mistakes. Jamie Spencer, Pro Soccer USA, "World Cup preview Croatia vs England: Head to Head, Team News, Prediction & More," 11 July 2018 Hogan asked Wiltsie whether that principle could be used to justify imprisonment stretching as long as the Hundred Years’ War between European nations in the 14th and 15th centuries. Missy Ryan, Washington Post, "‘There have to be limits’: Lawyers for Guantanamo inmates challenge lifetime imprisonment without charge," 11 July 2018 But they are shot through with deep sadness because the time of waiting stretches out over lifetimes, and in most cases even longer. Laurent Dubois, The Atlantic, "France’s Ghosts Return for the World Cup," 14 July 2018 Maybin tracked it to the wall, leaped, stretched out his glove and made the catch crashing into the fence to. Mike Persak,, "Marlins shut out Phillies, 2-0, even weekend series with division leaders," 14 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The closure will end on Monday at 5 a.m. At 8 p.m. on Friday, the department will start closing entrance ramps to the stretch of the highway. Deasia Paige, Detroit Free Press, "Westbound I-696 to close this weekend in Oakland County," 12 July 2018 Sunday’s result: Tuscany Beauty led going into the stretch but lost a tough duel and was caught and lost by a neck. John Cherwa,, "Racing! CHRB ready to tackle Golden Gate issue," 12 July 2018 The 24-hour whirlwind leading up to Monday night's prime time announcement, and the 12-day stretch that preceded it, was classic Trump – a freewheeling process involving an eclectic cast of advisers and punctuated by bouts of indecision and drama. Author: Ashley Parker, Robert Costa, Anchorage Daily News, "‘All a little misdirection’: Inside Trump’s sometimes-wavering decision to nominate Kavanaugh," 11 July 2018 Senior women — Laura Davies and Trish Johnson recovered from rough stretches after two rounds of the inaugural US Senior Women’s Open at Wheaton, Ill.., "Robert Rock takes two-shot lead at Scottish Open," 14 July 2018 One stretch of the embankment along the river likely to draw visitors, which had been surrounded by a blue fence for years, was finally refurbished. Ivan Nechepurenko, New York Times, "Peeking Around Corners in the World Cup’s Provincial Cities," 14 July 2018 One big push down the stretch vaulted Scott McCarron to the top of a crowded leaderboard and put him in position to capture his second straight Constellation Senior Players Championship. Andrew Seligman,, "Defending champ Scott McCarron joins tie for Senior Players lead at Exmoor," 14 July 2018 Adam Jones is enduring a mini-slump his past five games, batting .143 with two of his three hits during that stretch being doubles. Josh Land,, "Orioles on deck: Pregame roster move, plus what to watch Saturday vs. Rangers and more," 14 July 2018 Both Charbonnet and Ojabo committed during a two-week stretch earlier this summer that saw Michigan add nine commitments to its 2019 recruiting class, which is now ranked No. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "U-M commits Charbonnet, Ojabo surge in updated 247Sports rankings," 13 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Stretch marks, scars from skin tears as skin expands, can also fade but might not go away. Ashley May, USA TODAY, "Women who've had babies look different. Here's how pregnancy can permanently change a body," 30 Aug. 2017 At 6-8, Bogdanovic is an athletic forward versatile enough to play the stretch power forward in certain lineups and situations. Nate Taylor, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: Bojan Bogdanovic brought to Pacers as a starter," 11 July 2017 Stretch dough to cover as much of the pan as possible, being careful not to tear the dough. Darlene Zimmerman, Detroit Free Press, "Foods rich in carotenoids may help age-related vision loss.," 9 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'stretch.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of stretch


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1541, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1954, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for stretch


Middle English strecchen, from Old English streccan; akin to Old High German strecchan to stretch, Old English stræc firm, severe

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Statistics for stretch

Last Updated

1 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for stretch

The first known use of stretch was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for stretch



English Language Learners Definition of stretch

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: to make (something) wider or longer by pulling it

: to become longer or wider when pulled

: to put your arms, legs, etc., in positions that make the muscles long and tight



English Language Learners Definition of stretch (Entry 2 of 3)

: a continuous area or length of land or water

: a continuous period of time

: a period of time spent in prison



English Language Learners Definition of stretch (Entry 3 of 3)

: made to stretch easily and then return to the original shape and size


\ ˈstrech \
stretched; stretching

Kids Definition of stretch

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to reach out : extend, spread I stretched my neck to see better.

2 : to pull or draw out in length or width or both : expand, enlarge Don't stretch my sweater.

3 : to extend (as the body) in a flat position I stretched out on the bed.

4 : to extend the body or limbs You should stretch before exercising.

5 : to pull tight Stretch the canvas over a frame.

6 : to cause to reach or continue A wire was stretched between two posts.

7 : exaggerate I think you're stretching the truth.

8 : to become extended without breaking Rubber stretches easily.

9 : to extend over a continuous period His fascination with dinosaurs stretches back to childhood.



Kids Definition of stretch (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act of extending or drawing out beyond ordinary or normal limits The story was a stretch of the imagination.

2 : the ability to be pulled or drawn out in length or width or both The fabric has a lot of stretch.

3 : the act or an instance of stretching the body or one of its parts

4 : a continuous extent in length, area, or time a short stretch of beach a long stretch of silence


transitive verb
\ ˈstrech \

Medical Definition of stretch 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to extend in length was told to stretch the leg muscles before running

2 : to enlarge or distend especially by force

intransitive verb

1 : to become extended in length or breadth

2 : to extend one's body or limbs



Medical Definition of stretch (Entry 2 of 2)

: the act of stretching : the state of being stretched a muscle or group of muscles in stretch —C. R. Houck

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Comments on stretch

What made you want to look up stretch? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


occurring twice a year or every two years

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