Definition of string in English:

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Pronunciation: /strɪŋ/


1 [mass noun] Material consisting of threads of cotton, hemp, or other material twisted together to form a thin length: unwieldy packs tied up with string
More example sentences
  • Mikki was threading lengths of string between four wooden pegs to mark out her chosen plot when the minibus arrived, half an hour later.
  • Colorful hammocks are woven from fine cotton string.
  • Starting at the short side, roll up the roast and tie with a 100 percent cotton string at 1-inch intervals.
twine, cord, yarn, thread, strand, fibre;
rope, cable, line, wire, ligature, thong, hawser
rare fillis
1.1 [count noun] A piece of string used to tie round or attach to something: the elephant mask had a trunk you could raise by pulling a string
More example sentences
  • McLean attaches the strings to my harness and sets me loose.
  • The fan, whose rotating blades had been disabled had strings attached to the fan housing, radiating out from it through 360 degrees.
  • The model had a set of strings attached to one of its wings.
1.2 [count noun] A piece of catgut or similar material interwoven with others to form the head of a sports racket.
Example sentences
  • He seems to be playing the ball in sheer delight at the things he can do with it, playing with a racket whose strings are one moment cobweb, the next piano-wire.
  • At such pressure, the rackets were extremely vulnerable: one year Borg broke strings on 60 rackets during the French Open.
  • It smashed off the strings of his racket and over to my side of the court.
1.3 [count noun] A length of catgut or wire on a musical instrument, producing a note by vibration: the D string broke
More example sentences
  • Irish harpers used their fingernails on the wire strings of their harps, again probably near the soundboard.
  • Pythagoras saw the connection between music and numbers and clearly understood how the note produced by a string related to its length.
  • It was Pythagoras who was the first person to study the notes emitted by plucked strings of various lengths.
1.4 (strings) The stringed instruments in an orchestra: the blend of the wind-group is less perfect than that of the strings
More example sentences
  • The guitars, strings, wind instruments, synths and God knows what else in the mix are used sparingly but effectively.
  • On this album there aren't any real strings or any orchestra instruments like harp or timpani.
  • The album is ripe with folk and country elements as well and encompasses many instruments, from epic strings to mouth organ and horns.
stringed instruments
1.5 [as modifier] Relating to or consisting of stringed instruments: a string quartet
More example sentences
  • There is no messing around with extraneous instrumentation or string sections here.
  • It was cool for 15 minutes, then everyone started writing everybody else's songs with all the same string band instrumentations.
  • Vassilev is also the founder and leader of Laureate, an exclusive string ensemble made up of international prize-winning string instrumentalists.
2A set of things tied or threaded together on a thin cord: she wore a string of agates round her throat
More example sentences
  • Use natural or painted wooden beads, or strings of cranberries or popcorn to drape the tree instead of tinsel.
  • Add some cranberries to your popcorn string for a touch of color.
  • In the kitchen there are dozens of jars of ground chiles and hot sauces, strings of whole peppers, and baskets of fresh ones.
strand, rope, necklace, rosary, chaplet
2.1A sequence of similar items or events: a string of burglaries
More example sentences
  • But after what seemed a routine pregnancy, their son, Adam, was stillborn - the first in a long string of misfortunes.
  • Rice commented on the string of injuries that have affected the Schwikerts and their teammates.
  • In 1965, Kaat won 18 games for a Twins team that broke the Yankees five-year string of American League pennants.
series, succession, chain, sequence, concatenation, run, streak;
2.2 Computing A linear sequence of characters, words, or other data.
Example sentences
  • Fitness functions include a simple linear problem for binary strings and classification of data sets which are dynamically loaded from a specified data file.
  • The latter part of the string consists of alphanumeric characters, with slashes interspersed.
  • Sometimes, though, the password is not really the string of alphanumeric characters you typed but instead a randomly assigned sequence.
2.3A group of racehorses trained at one stable.
Example sentences
  • Burke said the purse structure and easy access to Turfway through international flights in and out of Cincinnati convinced him to stable a small string there.
  • A tax exile living in Geneva, McManus has a large string of horses trained in England, Ireland and France.
  • Marlow added that training his own string had always been his goal.
2.4A reserve team or player holding a specified position in an order of preference: the village team held Rangers' second string to a 0-0 draw
More example sentences
  • With the Premier title already in the bag and the FA Sunday Cup final looming on Sunday, Albion Sports paraded most of their third string for the visit of bogey side Crown.
  • Matthews started three games for the Bears last year; Wuerffel was third string on the same team.
  • At Montgomery Blair High School, Francis was academically ineligible as a freshman, and then a third string varsity bench warmer as a sophomore.
2.5A player assigned a specified rank in a team in an individual sport such as squash: Taylor lost to third string Baines
More example sentences
  • Earlier in the tie Manchester stalwart Nick Taylor beat the visitors' third string Sam Miller 9-7 9-5 7-9 9-6 to begin the home team's victory surge.
3A tough piece of fibre in vegetables, meat, or other food, such as a tough elongated piece connecting the two halves of a bean pod.
Example sentences
  • Cut the melon in halves, spoon out the seeds and strings.
  • Remove the outside strings from the runner beans and finely shred the beans.
  • That sideways tear gets rid of the tough string that sometimes runs along the edge of the pod.
4A G-string or thong.
Example sentences
  • Beautifully romantic vintage balcony bras and deep sided strings in rich chocolate and plum lace are courtesy of Collette Dinnigan for Wild Hearts.
  • The strings allow for maximum skin and definitely show off the sexier side of you!
  • So as nonchalantly as I could, I slid into the string, the bra, and the slacks.
5 short for stringboard.
Example sentences
  • Each of them is made of beautifully laid rough solid buff Cambridge-like brick with very precise precast concrete lintels and strings.
6 Physics A hypothetical one-dimensional subatomic particle having the dynamical properties of a flexible loop.
Example sentences
  • String theory is a quantum theory where the fundamental objects are one dimensional strings and not pointlike particles.
  • This was a deadly flaw for a theory of hadrons, but not for a theory in which all matter, including photons, are strings.
  • It's something particles cannot do, because a particle cannot get wrapped around a circle like a string.
6.1 (also cosmic string) A hypothetical thread-like concentration of energy within the structure of space-time.
Example sentences
  • Similarly, when the string moves in space and time, it warps the space around it just as Einstein predicted.
  • Massive cosmic strings would also be excellent candidates for gravitational lensing.
  • It attempts to reduce all matter, all energy, and all their interactions to the existence of higher-dimensional vibrating strings of energy.

verb (past and past participle strung /strʌŋ/)

1 [with object and adverbial] Hang (something) so that it stretches in a long line: lights were strung across the promenade
More example sentences
  • But a utility could spend even more to string new high-voltage lines to match the same capacity increase.
  • As the miners dig, they lay railroad track, string electrical power lines, and install pipes to supply fresh air and water.
  • Outside lighting can be as simple as stringing a set of lights around a tree or for Christmas enthusiasts creating a winter wonderland in the garden.
hang, suspend, sling, stretch;
thread, loop, festoon
stretch, sling, run, fasten, tie, secure, link
1.1Thread (a series of small objects) on a string: he collected stones with holes in them and strung them on a strong cord
More example sentences
  • Be it chunky beads strung in silver thread or kundan silver jewellery dipped in gold and worked on in fine detail, the jet-set crowd drools over these creations.
  • Her installation was made of crystal beads strung on transparent threads.
  • Decorate a small conifer or other evergreen tree with garlands of unsalted popcorn and cranberries and grapes strung on heavy-duty thread.
thread, loop, link, join
1.2 (be strung) Be arranged in a long line: the houses were strung along the road
More example sentences
  • Across the mountains, in Kosovo, there is 60% unemployment and small brothels are strung along the back streets of almost every town.
  • Across the water the grand York Road houses are set back, strung along a hillside skyline, spacing out as you go.
  • There are bright spots, particularly the fishing villages strung along the coast from Crail to Elie.
1.3 (string something together) Add items to one another to form a series or coherent whole: he can’t string two sentences together
More example sentences
  • The person who can string the most movie titles together wins my undying admiration.
  • ‘Company was a bunch of one-act plays they strung together musically,’ says Holmes.
  • O'Neill has solidified so well, in fact, that he strung together 22 goals in his last 27 games.
2 [with object] Fit a string or strings to (a musical instrument, a racket, or a bow): the harp had been newly strung
More example sentences
  • And how does this Janaka make a svayamvara like this, that someone should string Shiva's bow?
  • When the bow is strung, this end was tied using a bowyers knot (now called a ‘bowline’ knot).
  • He slung the quiver over his shoulder and easily strung the bow, checking the string's tautness.
3 [with object] Remove the strings from (a bean).
Example sentences
  • String the beans and break into lengths as for cooking.
4 [with object] North American informal Hoax or trick (someone): I’m not stringing you—I’ll eat my shirt if it’s not true
More example sentences
  • I'm not stringing you, honest. He's a wonder.
5 [no object] informal Work as a stringer in journalism: he strings for almost every French radio service
More example sentences
  • I was stringing indirectly for Reuters through an Israeli photo agency and found myself surrounded by a blizzard of bullets for the first time in my life.
6 [no object] Billiards Determine the order of play by striking the cue ball from baulk to rebound off the top cushion, first stroke going to the player whose ball comes to rest nearer the bottom cushion.
Example sentences
  • To begin a game of English billiards, both players "string".



have many strings to one's bow

see bow1.

how long is a piece of string?

British Used to indicate that something cannot be given a finite measurement.
Example sentences
  • He's the best young striker I've worked with so how long is a piece of string?
  • He is one of the most sought-after artists in the world and in terms of price it would be like asking how long is a piece of string?
  • Not surprisingly, that turns out to be one of those ‘how long is a piece of string?’

no strings attached

informal Used to show that an offer or opportunity carries no special conditions or restrictions: they wanted a lot of money with no strings attached
More example sentences
  • The policy proposes to give indigenous communities even more money and power with no strings attached.
  • These accounts give instant access to your money, with no strings attached.
  • A musician is today pleading for the return of his irreplaceable £35,000 viola and is offering a £500 reward… no strings attached.
conditions, qualifications, provisions, provisos, caveats, stipulations, riders, contingencies, prerequisites, limitations, limits, constraints, restrictions, reservations, requirements, obligations
informal catches

on a string

Under one’s control or influence: I keep all three men on a string and never make a choice
More example sentences
  • He has got a better nerve than the rest and was just totally in control of his ball - he virtually had it on a string.
  • Yet it becomes obvious that she has his heart on a string.
  • Anyone can see that Nicholas is a puppet on a string.

Phrasal verbs


string along

British informal Stay with or accompany a person or group casually or as long as it is convenient.
Example sentences
  • Of our professional footballers only the following maintain fitness as a matter of course: Eve, Elcock, Lawrence, Rougier, Andrews, Mauge and Carrington, while the rest merely seem to string along.
go along, go too, come too, join in;
accompany, join, join up with, take up with

string someone along

informal Mislead someone deliberately over a length of time, especially about one’s intentions: she had no plans to marry him—she was just stringing him along
More example sentences
  • And secondly, they've strung us along too long without providing enough interesting plot points to hold anyone's interest.
  • You were a false friend; you strung us along, and we never realised.
  • She wants to know why he strung her along and then dumped her.
mislead, deceive, take in, take advantage of, dupe, hoax, fool, make a fool of, bluff;
make use of, play with, toy with, dally with, trifle with, play fast and loose with
informal lead up the garden path, take for a ride, put one over on, kid

string out

Stretch out into a long line: the runners string out in a line across the road
More example sentences
  • We're the last group to leave, driving around in a circle with our lights blazing for the benefit of the TV cameras before stringing out into a line heading north.
  • More of them fell back, stringing out in a long, ragged line as the darkness came down.
  • As McEvoy increased his ride's pace, the nine-strong field began to string out and Fallon in third place looked well-placed to mount a challenge.

string something out

Prolong something: he had strung out the conversation
More example sentences
  • But the NMC only offers guidelines on how employers should carry out the training, so the adaptation period can be strung out for much longer.
  • Clearly the tenant is hoping to string this matter out as long as possible but the time has come to draw it to a head.
  • The supreme court is considering the validity of the election result and they may string the process out for a week, but people say they are prepared to stay on the streets for as long as it takes.
protract, spin out, draw out, drag out, lengthen, stretch, stretch out

be strung out

Be nervous or tense: I often felt strung out by daily stresses
More example sentences
  • Of this ‘boyfriend’ group, there is a sub-group that is doubly nervous and strung out!
  • Lizzie is the epitome of a Type-A personality - ambitious, motivated, uptight, and strung out.
  • This week Monkey Boy and Andrew G Spot are almost entirely unremarkable in appearance, except that Monkey Boy seems to be having difficulties blinking and looks really strung out.
North American 5.1 Be under the influence of alcohol or drugs: he died, strung out on booze
More example sentences
  • My brother got out of the army in Germany and came back strung out on opiates, and that's when it began for me.
  • Some girls were so strung out on drugs they didn't know what they were doing.
  • How many kids have they left behind, dead and strung out, him and his brother?

string someone/thing up

1Hang something up on strings: electric globes had been strung up at intervals
More example sentences
  • Another person backs them with felt and uses them as party drinks coasters and one retired gentleman strings them up in the garden to scare birds from his seeds and fruit.
  • Christmas cards were strung up, and we all pulled Christmas crackers and listened to the more melodious parts of my Christmas tape from home.
  • I stood at the front door, waving and smiling, and directing people towards the counter, instead of around the side to where decorations were strung up.
1.1Kill someone by hanging: I’d like to string up whoever is responsible for this outrage
More example sentences
  • All the good folks of Stone Junction want to give the man over to the Indians to kill, or string him up themselves and deliver his corpse.
  • Named for the Bannock Indians, this was home of Sheriff Henry Plummer, who, with his gang of road agents, robbed and murdered miners for their gold before town vigilantes strung him up on January 10, 1864.
  • He was the man who liberated Berlin; he was beside the swinging body of Mussolini after the dictator was strung up; he was a Chindit with Wingate.
hang, lynch, gibbet
informal make swing
2 (be strung up) British informal Be tense or nervous: he was strung up about something and behaving oddly
More example sentences
  • It wasn't until I had turned onto the hallway where my locker was that I found what everyone was strung up about.
  • Many of us - I know - I remember well - were strung up with tension at the point of giving our maiden speeches.
  • Speaking of music, she says music is what relaxes her when she is all strung up.
tense, nervous, on edge, edgy, overwrought, jumpy, keyed up, worked up, agitated, restive;
anxious, worried, apprehensive, ill at ease, uneasy, unquiet;
British  nervy
informal uptight, wound up, twitchy, jittery, wired, a bundle of nerves, like a cat on a hot tin roof
British informal stressy



Example sentences
  • Dwarfed by a large screen on which there are projections of singing puppets and mind-numbing flash visuals, Manitoba bashes away on dual drum kits, keyboards, xylophones, melodicas and stringless guitars.
  • They are the largest varieties with stringless flesh.
  • We've been experimenting with yellow wax beans, purple dwarf beans, purple tee pee, golden tee pee and our best stringless runner beans, white lady.


Example sentences
  • Ants covered the plants and gnawed the tiny seeds out of the string-like pods.
  • ‘Shortwavemusic’ focuses on lush string-like echoes and distorted voices all slowed down, stretched out, and processed into noise.
  • The name comes from the idea that the most elementary building blocks of matter are tiny, vibrating loops or segments that are string-like in shape and vibrate in many different modes, like violin strings.


Old English streng (noun), of Germanic origin; related to German Strang, also to strong. The verb (dating from late Middle English) is first recorded in the senses 'arrange in a row' and 'fit with a string'.

  • The Germanic root of the Old English word string is related to strong, and in early use it could refer to a rope or cord of any thickness. If you have many strings to your bow you have a wide range of resources, just as an archer ought to have spare strings. A different kind of string lies behind the expression have someone on a string, meaning ‘to have someone under your control or influence’. The idea behind this 16th-century phrase is of a puppeteer manipulating a puppet by its strings. An opportunity or offer with no strings attached has no special conditions or restrictions that apply. This is a relatively recent expression, first used in the 1950s, though it is based on an earlier US use of string meaning ‘a limitation or condition’.

Words that rhyme with string

Beijing, bing, bring, Chungking, cling, ding, dingaling, fling, I Ching, king, Kunming, ling, Ming, Nanjing, Peking, ping, ring, sing, Singh, sling, spring, sting, swing, Synge, thing, ting, wing, wring, Xining, zing

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: string

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