\ˈtīt \

Definition of tight 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : having elements close together a tight formation a tight line of type

b : so close in structure as to prevent passage or escape (as of liquid, gas, or light) a tight ship a tight seal — compare lightproof, watertight

c : fitting very close to the body tight jeans also : too snug tight shoes

d(1) : closely packed : very full a tight bale of hay

(2) : barely allowing time for completion a tight schedule tight deadlines

e : allowing little or no room for free motion or movement a tight connection a tight crawl space also : having a small radius a tight turn

2a : strongly fixed or held : secure a tight jar lid a tight grip on the ladder

b(1) : not slack or loose : taut kept the reins tight a tight knot a tight drumhead also : marked by firmness and muscle tone a tight stomach

(2) : marked by unusual tension (as in the face or body) lips tight with anger a family tight with fear

3a : difficult to cope with in a tight spot financially

b : relatively difficult to obtain money is tight just now also : characterized by such difficulty a tight job market

c : not liberal in giving : stingy tight with a penny

4 : characterized by little difference in the relative positions of contestants with respect to final outcome : close a tight race for mayor

5a : characterized by firmness or strictness in control or application or in attention to details tight security ran a tight newsroom keeps a tight hand on her investments

b : marked by control or discipline in expression or style : having little or no extraneous matter tight writing

c : characterized by a polished style and precise arrangements in music performance

6 : having a close personal or working relationship : intimate is tight with the boss

7 : being such that the subject fills the frame a tight close-up

8 : somewhat drunk

9 chiefly dialectal : capable, competent



Definition of tight (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : fast, tightly, firmly the door was shut tight

2 : in a sound manner : soundly sleep tight

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from tight


tightly adverb
tightness noun

Examples of tight in a Sentence


The lid is too tight. I can't loosen it. She made a tight knot in the rope. Keep a tight grip on his hand when you cross the street. Pull the ribbon tight and make a bow.


Is the door shut tight? She screwed the cap on tight. Don't close the lid so tight. We were packed as tight as sardines on the bus.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Camille’s not much happier to be there, but then newspaper travel budgets can be tight. Ellen Gray, Philly.com, "'Sharp Objects' with Amy Adams isn't another 'Big Little Lies' (and it shouldn't have to be)," 5 July 2018 Security was tight across the country for the holiday. Elizabeth Chuck /, NBC News, "July 4th sees sticky weather in the East, wildfires in the West," 4 July 2018 Security was tight Tuesday morning at Beijing airport, where paramilitary police prevented journalists from taking photos. Christopher Bodeen And Dake Kang, The Christian Science Monitor, "China hopes to see progress on US-North Korea summit agreements," 19 June 2018 Security was tight Tuesday morning in the Pyongyang airport, where another flight was unexpectedly delayed, and later at the Beijing airport where paramilitary police prevented journalists from shooting photos. Christopher Bodeen And Dake Kang, Fox News, "Kim Jong Un visiting China, expected to discuss his nukes," 19 June 2018 Hicks was lactating, and her doctor told her that her bulletproof vest was too tight and risked causing a breast infection. Anchorage Daily News, "Pregnancy discrimination is rampant inside America’s biggest companies," 16 June 2018 Tempos were brisk and the ensemble playing was tight. Christian Hertzog, sandiegouniontribune.com, "A rare, fiery performance of a Rebel ballet kicks off Mainly Mozart Festival," 10 June 2018 However, with their tight salary cap situation, the Bucks would be hard-pressed to match Chicago's offer of $20 million per year. Matt Velazquez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Bucks rescind qualifying offer; Jabari Parker joins Chicago Bulls," 14 July 2018 Gold also struggles to compete with yield-bearing investments when rates rise, another reason why expectations of tighter monetary policy tend to hurt the metal. Ira Iosebashvili, WSJ, "Gold Prices Fall as the Dollar’s Gains Pressure Commodities," 13 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

Investors are sitting tight, awaiting cues from the trade negotiations that began Thursday in Washington between top American and Chinese economic officials. Joanne Chiu, WSJ, "Asia-Pacific Stocks Head for Biggest Drop in Eight Weeks," 18 May 2018 The game was tight into the seventh with Hartford holding a 2-0 lead. Staff Reports, courant.com, "Hartford Earns First NCAA Baseball Berth," 26 May 2018 But hang tight: If all things go according to plan, the intention is eventually to roll out to other cities soon. Devin Alessio, ELLE Decor, "Meet The Couple Who Will Unpack Your Home For You," 2 Sep. 2016 Not only does it cut cooking time way, way down for all sorts of dishes, but the pressure cooker seals tight, keeping heat inside, which is a real win in the summer months. Samantha Gordon, USA TODAY, "These are the 5 best deals on Amazon right now," 12 July 2018 Meanwhile, sales in the Northeast and West declined and purchases were flat in the Midwest in May. More widely, housing market inventory has been tight, driving up home prices and pricing some potential buyers out of the market. Paul Kiernan, WSJ, "New Home Sales Surge on Rising Purchases in the South," 25 June 2018 Mendoza's mother, Natalia, squeezes him tight at the airport, their first hug in 18 years. Maria Sacchetti, Washington Post, "Going home after half a lifetime," 30 May 2018 Its borders and exits into Israel (and one to Egypt) are shut tight, which means no exports and no work. Trudy Rubin, Philly.com, "U.S. Embassy moved to Jerusalem, Gaza exploded. Does Trump or Bibi have a Plan B? | Trudy Rubin," 15 May 2018 Bella's outfit was equally fun: a blue crop-top over tight, stretchy silver shorts with silver stilettos and a clunky necklace and earrings. Suzannah Weiss, Teen Vogue, "Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid Dress Up for a Girls' Night Out at Cannes," 13 May 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of tight


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1680, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for tight


Middle English tiht, thyht dense, solid, watertight, of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse thēttr tight; akin to Middle High German dīhte thick, Sanskrit tanakti it causes to coagulate

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about tight

Dictionary Entries near tight






tight backbone


Statistics for tight

Last Updated

17 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tight

The first known use of tight was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for tight



English Language Learners Definition of tight

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: difficult to move : fastened, attached, or held in a position that is not easy to move

: fitting very close to your body

: flat or firm from being pulled or stretched



English Language Learners Definition of tight (Entry 2 of 2)

: in a tight way


\ˈtīt \
tighter; tightest

Kids Definition of tight

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : very closely packed or compressed a tight bundle a tight fist

2 : fixed or held very firmly in place a tight jar cover

3 : fitting too closely tight shoes

4 : firmly stretched or drawn : taut Pull the rope until it's tight.

5 : difficult to get through or out of I'm in a tight spot.

6 : firm in control She keeps a tight hand on affairs.

8 : low in supply : scarce Money is tight until I get paid.

9 : painfully or uncomfortably tense a tight throat

10 : barely allowing enough time a tight schedule

Other Words from tight

tightly adverb
tightness noun



Kids Definition of tight (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : in a firm, secure, or close manner Shut the door tight. Hold on tight.

2 : in a deep and uninterrupted manner : soundly Sleep tight.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on tight

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tight

Spanish Central: Translation of tight

Nglish: Translation of tight for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tight for Arabic Speakers

Comments on tight

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


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!