Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

stretch - definition and synonyms


What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.



The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

verb stretch pronunciation in British English /stretʃ/
Word Forms
present tense
present participlestretching
past tensestretched
past participlestretched
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  1. 1
    [transitive] to pull something to make it longer or wider
    I’ll have to get these shoes stretched.
    1. a.
      [intransitive] to become longer or wider by pulling
      Her new knitted dress had stretched.
    2. b.
      [intransitive] if a material such as cloth stretches, it becomes wider or longer when you pull it, and returns to its original shape and size when you stop pulling it
      When you’re pregnant it helps to wear fabrics that stretch as you grow.
  2. 2
    [transitive] to pull something so that it becomes smooth, straight, and tight
    a folding chair made of white canvas stretched on a metal frame
    The little birds are caught in nets stretched between the trees.
  3. 3
    [intransitive/transitive] to make your arms, legs, or body as straight as possible so that your muscles become long and tight
    I leaned back in the chair and stretched.
    This exercise strengthens the lower back and stretches the hamstrings.
    1. a.



      stretch out

      [transitive] to move an arm or a leg away from your body in order to reach something
      He stretched his hand towards her.
  4. 4
    [intransitive] to continue for a particular distance
    stretch into/from/to/for/across: The empire stretched all the way from Scotland to the Pyrenees.
    The beach stretches for miles in each direction.
    Old grey houses stretched into the distance.
    stretch as far as the eye can see: The traffic stretched as far as the eye could see.
    1. a.
      to continue for a particular period of time
      stretch to/into/over/beyond/back: Paul’s initial two months’ work experience ultimately stretched to five.
      Negotiations had now stretched into a twelfth day.
      They had an unbeaten record stretching back to 1995.
  5. 5
    [intransitive] [usually in negatives] to have enough money to pay for something
    stretch to: I don’t really think my salary will stretch to a designer suit.
  6. 6
    [transitive] to use all the money, supplies, or time available
    At best, police resources are stretched.
    stretch something to the limit: Medical services were stretched to the limit.
  7. 7
    [transitive] to make someone use all their intelligence or ability, especially in a way that is interesting or enjoyable
    I don’t think his job really stretches him sufficiently.
  8. 8
    [transitive] to no longer be reasonable
    stretch (someone’s) credulity/patience etc: Foreman’s book has a plot that stretches credulity to the utmost.
  9. 9
    [transitive] to allow something that is usually not allowed because of a special situation
    We might be prepared to stretch the rules a little in this instance.
    stretch a point (=allow something that is not usually allowed): Couldn’t you stretch a point for a friend?

phrasal verbs


a meal served in the evening which consists of foods traditionally eaten at breakfast

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary

troll factory

a company that pays its employees to write online comments in favour or against somebody or something posing as ordinary Internet users

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog