1 verb
a) (I, T) to make something bigger or looser by pulling it, or to become bigger or looser as a result of being pulled: My big, blue sweater has stretched completely out of shape.
b) (intransitive not in progressive) if material stretches, it can become bigger or longer when you pull it and then return to its original shape when you stop: Lycra shorts will stretch to fit you perfectly.
2 ARM/BODY (I, T) to straighten your arms, legs, or body to full length: Carl sat up in bed, yawned and stretched.
3 MAKE STH TIGHT (T) to pull something so that it is tight: a rope stretched between two poles | stretch sth tight: Stretch the canvas tight over the frame.
4 IN SPACE (intransitive always + adv/prep) to spread out or cover a large area of land
(+ to/into/away): The desert stretched away as far as the eye could see. | a line stretching around the block
5 IN TIME (intransitive always + adv/prep) to continue over a period of time
(+ into/on/over): a research program stretching over several years
6 RULE/LIMIT (T) 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. | stretch a point (=allow a rule to be broken): We'll stretch a point and let the baby travel free this time.
7 stretch sb's patience/credulity etc to be almost beyond the limits of what someone can accept, believe etc: stretch sth to the limit: Barry's behaviour has stretched my patience to the limit.
8 ABILITIES (T) to make someone use all of their skill, abilities or intelligence: The work's too easy. The students aren't being stretched enough.
9 be stretched (to the limit) to have hardly enough money or supplies for your needs: We're stretched at the moment, otherwise I'd offer to lend you some money.
10 stretch the truth to make something seem more important, bigger etc than it really is: be stretching it: He's a good player, but “world class” is stretching it.
11 not stretch to sth if someone's money will not stretch to something, they cannot afford it: Our savings don't stretch to a vacation this year.
12 stretch your legs informal to go for a walk, especially after sitting for a long time
— stretchable adjective stretch out phrasal verb
1 (intransitive always + adv/prep) informal to lie down, usually in order to sleep or rest: I'm just going to stretch out on the couch for ten minutes.
2 (transitive stretch something out) to put out your hand, foot etc in order to reach something: Jimmy stretched out his hand to take the candy.
2 noun
1 LENGTH OF LAND/WATER (C) an area of land or water, especially one that is long and narrow
(+ of): The boat rocked as it entered the stretch of rough water. | a beautiful stretch of countryside | home/final/finishing stretch (=the last part of a track before the end of a race)
2 TIME (C) a continuous period of time
(+ of): a stretch of three weeks without sunshine. | at a stretch (=without stopping): I couldn't stand for hours at a stretch.
3 BODY (C) the action of stretching a part of your body out to its full length, or a particular way of doing this: The ski instructor showed us some special stretches.
4 MATERIAL (U) the ability a material has to increase in length or width without tearing: This elastic has lost its stretch.
—compare stretchy
5 not by any stretch of the imagination used to say that something cannot be true, even if you try very hard to imagine or believe it: You wouldn't call him smart by any stretch of the imagination, but he did ok for himself.
6 JAIL (countable usually singular) informal a period of time spent in prison
7 at full stretch BrE
a) using everything that is available: The emergency services were at full stretch after the motorway pile-up.
b) with your body or part of your body stretched as far as possible: He dived and caught the ball at full stretch.

Longman dictionary of contemporary English. 2004.

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