\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

Decades later, the case remains the bloodiest chapter in the history of the Gucci family itself, which has a long legacy of infighting, with many lawsuits and counter-suits stretching back between relatives. Adam Carlson,, "Hit Man in the House of Gucci: Behind the Twisted Murder Plot That Brought Down a Fashion Mogul," 12 July 2018 But the Sheldon family are an exception, with a history in Alaska that stretches back decades. Carey Jones, Vogue, "On a Remote Glacier in the Middle of Alaska, I Learned the Magic of Disconnecting," 12 July 2018 Escareño’s involvement in politics stretches back much farther. Elaine Ayala, San Antonio Express-News, "San Antonian’s front seat at Mexico’s historic presidential election," 8 July 2018 Dawson is part of an unaffiliated tradition that stretches back to the Holy Modal Rounders, the VU’s Mo Tucker, Kath Bloom, and the Shaggs. John Adamian,, "Britney Spears, Tory Lanez, Kimya Dawson: Seven Concert Highlights," 7 July 2018 Her sentiments echo family traditions stretching back over many decades. The Aegis, "Our next generation [Editorial]," 6 July 2018 American regional carrier Piedmont Airlines was the final operator of turboprops among the Big Three U.S. carriers and their affiliates, an era that stretched back to the first flights by Delta Air Lines Inc. and United in 1928. Justin Bachman / Bloomberg, Time, "Here's Why You'll Probably Never Fly on a Propeller Plane Ever Again," 5 July 2018 Like most first official solo LPs, Debut is a culmination of ideas stretching back to her earliest days as a songwriter. William Goodman, Billboard, "Bjork's 'Debut': An Art-Pop Masterpiece Turns 25," 5 July 2018 These are players who have had every step of their careers professionally managed and plotted out since the dawn of their stardom, a period of time that, in a lot of cases, stretches back to their early-to-mid-teens. David Murphy,, "How LeBron James' decision may change Sixers' Star Hunt approach | David Murphy," 2 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Padres went down in order in the ninth on three strikeouts – their ninth, 10th and 11th whiffs in a four-inning stretch. Kevin Acee,, "Things fall apart quickly for Padres in loss to Cubs," 13 July 2018 His hunt for his son turned tragic when Ben’s body was found wrapped in plastic and twine in a lonely stretch of a local property. Kc Baker,, "Suspects' Mom and Girlfriend Allegedly Knew Missing 16-Year-Old Was Murdered — but Said Nothing," 12 July 2018 The other four events in this stretch are important to the players, too — the Honda Classic, Arnold Palmer Invitational, Valspar Championship and Valero Texas Open. Steve Dimeglio, USA TODAY, "PGA Tour shuffles schedule to finish Playoffs before football season," 10 July 2018 The good news: This may be the last in the stretch of 90-plus degree days. Cincinnati Enquirer,, "Cincinnati weather: Storms bring a brief respite from the heat," 5 July 2018 That tally of short seller loses came before news that Tesla had reached its production target of 5,000 Model 3 vehicles a week in the final stretch of the second quarter. Lucinda Shen, Fortune, "As Tesla Reaches Model 3 Production Targets, Short Sellers Have Lost $2.5 Billion," 2 July 2018 The Astros are in a stretch of 23 games in 24 days. Hunter Atkins, Houston Chronicle, "Astros' Carlos Correa out for second straight game with back stiffness," 27 June 2018 Frehn grew up in a dusty stretch of Southern California making sketches of electric cars and cities crowned with solar panels. Lauren Smiley, WIRED, "The Mission to Build the Ultimate Burger Bot," 21 June 2018 When Season 1 dropped, Colin Kaepernick had only just started making headlines for kneeling before games and the presidential election was in its final stretch. Aisha Harris, New York Times, "‘Luke Cage’ Season 2: A New Villain and Respectability Politics," 21 June 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

10 Nov 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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