Language: Old English
Origin: streccan


1 verb
stretch1 S3 W3

make something bigger/looser

a) [intransitive and transitive] to make something bigger or looser by pulling it, or to become bigger or looser as a result of being pulled:
A spider's web can stretch considerably without weakening.
Where can I buy those things that stretch your shoes?
b) [intransitive not in progressive] if a material stretches, it can become bigger or longer when you pull it and then return to its original shape when you stop


[intransitive and transitive]HBH to straighten your arms, legs, or body to full length:
Carl sat up in bed, yawned, and stretched.
Always stretch before exercising.


[intransitive always +adverb/preposition] to reach a long way for something
stretch across/over
Ann stretched across the couch and grabbed the phone.

make something tight

[transitive] to pull something so that it is tight:
The canvas is stretched over a wooden frame.


[intransitive,transitive always + adverb/preposition] to continue over a period of time or in a series, or make something do this
stretch into/on/over etc
Berg's career as a government official stretched over twenty years.
With a goal in the second half, Spurs stretched their lead to 3-0.

in space

[intransitive always + adverb/preposition] to spread out or cover a large area of land
stretch to/into/away etc
Row after row of orange trees stretched to the horizon.
a line stretching around the block

stretch your legs

informal to go for a walk, especially after sitting for a long time

stretch (somebody's) patience/credulity

to be almost beyond the limits of what someone can accept or believe:
The kids stretch my patience to the limit.


[transitive] British English to allow something that would not normally be allowed by a rule or limit:
This once I'll stretch the rules and let you leave work early.
We'll stretch a point (=allow a rule to be broken) and let the baby travel free this time.

➔ stretch the rules

at rule1 (1)

stretch the truth/facts

to say or write something that is not completely true:
Reporters sometimes stretch the facts to make a point.

be stretching it

informal to make something seem more important, bigger etc than it really is:
He's a good player, but 'world class' is stretching it.


[intransitive and transitive] if you make an amount of money, food etc stretch or it stretches, you use less of it than you usually would so that you have it for a longer time:
I'm going to have to stretch this $20 until payday.

be stretched (to the limit)

to have hardly enough money, supplies, time etc for your needs:
We're stretched at the moment, otherwise we'd go.

not stretch to something

British English if someone's money will not stretch to something, they cannot afford it:
The budget won't stretch to a new car this year.


[transitive] to make someone use all of their skill, abilities, or intelligence:
The work's too easy. The students aren't being stretched enough.

stretch out

phrasal verb
1 informal to lie down, usually in order to sleep or rest:
I'm just going to stretch out on the couch for ten minutes.

stretch something ↔ out

to put out your hand, foot etc in order to reach something:
Jimmy stretched out his hand to take the candy.

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