A stretch to [believe; say]


Senior Member
Hi all. I read this in an article appeared in Economist: "it is a stretch to belive that Wells can be effective to monitoring foreign institutions." I guess here "it is a stretch to believe"

roughly means "It is hard to believe" . But I feel "it's a stretch to believe" and "it's hard to believe" differs in the emphasis and intensity they implies. Am I right? What does "it is a

stretch to believe" exactly mean ? Is it a common expression is English language? Thank you.
  • gramman

    Senior Member
    Yes, it is a common expression, and in my opinion it means the same thing as "hard to believe." I see no difference in emphasis or intensity, and qualifiers could be applied equally to both. Something could be "a real stretch" (very hard to believe) or only "a bit of a stretch" (somewhat hard to believe).


    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    It is a stretch to believe that Wells can be effective to in monitoring foreign institutions."
    Yes; it's short for "it's a stretch of the imagination", essentially as Gramman says, hard to believe. P.S.: Are you sure you copied this correctly? Note the corrections; the first was probably just your typo, but the second was a grammatical error.


    Senior Member
    Question added to previous discussion.
    Cagey, moderator

    He gave me a look that wasn’t very soulful (or very Christian, for that matter), and left. It would not be a stretch to say Stamper stamped out.
    Source: Revival by Stephen King
    Context: Jamie and Pastor Charles Jacobs are in the study room in The Latches (Charles's new residence) and Stamper is Charles assistant-cum-butler. When he served lemonade, Jamie made a sarcastic remark.

    A stretch in this extract mean an exaggeration, right?

    This definition does not fit: a difficult or demanding task : it was a stretch for me sometimes to come up with the rent.

    Is the meaning of stretch as an exaggeration (if correct) common?

    Thank you.
    Last edited by a moderator:


    Senior Member
    Inglés británico
    You are almost correct - it is sort of to do with exaggeration, but with the added idea of effort - it doesn't require much exaggeration/much use of imagination to come to that conclusion, or to state that thing. To use stretch (it would not be a stretch to say/it is not a stretch to imagine) in this way is fairly common, yes.


    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    It's this meaning of the noun stretch:

    26. the act or fact of stretching or extending something beyond reasonable or proper limits: You wouldn't call her a genius by any stretch of the imagination. It's quite a stretch for me to believe his story.
    Source: WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English © 2017

    For most words, we have definitions from three different dictionaries. It's worthwhile to read them all. One of the definitions may relate to your context more clearly than the others.
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