Did you know?

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

tight - 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.

Thesaurus diagram

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.

adjective     tight pronunciation in British English
Word Forms
  1. 1
    clothes that are tight are close against your body when you wear them

    a tight skirt/dress

    1. a.
      used about clothes that are uncomfortable because they are so close against your body

      The first hat was a bit tight.

  2. 2
    a tight hold or grip is very firm and strong

    She hugged Marco in a tight grip.

    1. a.
      firmly fastened in a particular position

      She had twisted her hair into a tight knot.

      The screw was so tight I couldn’t turn it.

  3. 3
    something such as cloth or rope that is tight is stretched so that it is completely straight or flat
  4. 4
    controlled very carefully and strictly

    Security has been very tight throughout the Prince’s visit.

    It was politically desirable to have a tight economic policy.

    tight control of costs

    1. a.
      done with a lot of skill and care so that mistakes are not made

      a tight performance by the cast

      They kept things tight for the first half of the game.

  5. 5
    if money is tight, you have only just enough
    a tight budget:

    holidays for people on a tight budget

    money is tight/things are tight:

    Things will be a little tight for a few months.

    1. a.
      if time is tight, you have so little time that it is difficult for you to do what you need to

      If time is tight, cook the chicken the day before.

      a tight schedule/deadline/timetable:

      We’re going to be working to a very tight schedule.

    2. b.
      if space is tight, you have only just enough

      You can just about park here, but it’s pretty tight.

      a tight squeeze (=a situation in which there is only just enough space):

      It’s a tight squeeze for all of you in our little house.

  6. 7
    if your chest or another part of your body feels tight, it feels as if it is being squeezed

    His throat was too tight to allow the words to escape.

  7. 8
    a tight angle is a very small angle that gives you very little space to do something
  8. 9
    a tight bend on a road is difficult to drive round because it curves a lot
  9. 10
    consisting of people or things that are very close together

    a tight bundle of sticks

  10. 11
    if a game is tight, both players or teams play well and it is difficult to know who will win
  11. 13
    informal, showing disapproval someone who is tight likes to avoid spending money
  12. 14
    informal old-fashioned drunk
    Synonyms and related words

derived words



The campaign had been tightly controlled from start to finish.

The skirt fits a little too tightly around the waist.


noun [uncountable]
  • Facebook
  • Twitter


to manipulate someone psychologically so that they begin to question their own perceptions and memories

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary

Dunning-Kruger effect

the phenomenon by which an incompetent person is too incompetent to understand his own incompetence

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
Macmillan learn live love play