Etymology: Middle English strecchen, from Old English streccan; akin to Old High German strecchan to stretch, Old English stræc firm, severe
Date: before 12th century
1. to extend (as one's limbs or body) 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> 8. a. 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> 10. a. 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 1. a. 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 3. a. to extend one's body or limbs <stretched before jogging> <wanted to stretch out on the sofa> b. to lie down at full length • stretchability noun • stretchable adjective • stretchy adjective II. noun Date: 1541 1. a. an exercise of something (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 3. a. 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> 4. a. 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> 7. a. 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 III. adjective Date: 1954 1. easily stretched ; elastic <a stretch wig> 2. longer than the standard size <a stretch limousine>
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.