Definition of tight in English:

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Pronunciation: /tīt/


1Fixed, fastened, or closed firmly; hard to move, undo, or open: she twisted her handkerchief into a tight knot
More example sentences
  • Giving it to Lior, Shumba watched as the guard drew closer to Amenra, her graying blond curls fastened in a tight knot along her gold enclosed neck.
  • Just then, there was a short knock and the door swung open to reveal his mother, undoing her tight, business-like bun.
  • She can't open cans or bottles if the lid is tight, and she's had to give up needlepoint.
compact, compacted, compressed, dense, solid
1.1(Of clothes or shoes) close-fitting, especially uncomfortably so: the dress was too tight for her
More example sentences
  • Never ride in cold weather with tight boots or shoes, nor close-fitting gloves.
  • Also tighten your shoes well and wear tight socks so that they will not come out of the shoes.
  • Don't wear tight clothing or shoes that can cause pressure and blistering.
tight-fitting, close-fitting, form-fitting, narrow, figure-hugging, skintight
informal sprayed-on
1.2(Of a grip) very firm so as not to let go: she released her tight hold on the dog figurative presidential advisers keep a tight grip on domestic policy
More example sentences
  • Flynn wants to keep a tight grip on the purse strings.
  • Not only do they survive childbirth and carrying heavy loads, they know how to keep a tight grip on luck, love and happiness.
  • He reached up and patted her horse with his bandaged hand, careful to keep a tight grip on the reigns with the other as they walked down the broad main street.
firm, fast, secure, fixed, clenched
1.3(Of a ship, building, or object) well sealed against something such as water or air: [in combination]: a light-tight container
More example sentences
  • Pigs have died after a ventilation failure in a tight building.
  • If the house is fairly tight, the simplest route for makeup air to enter the structure is often the unused fireplace chimney.
  • A tight home can literally use up enough air that the fireplace flue is the only route for a fresh supply of outside air available.
1.4(Of a formation or a group of people or things) closely or densely packed together: he levered the bishop out from a tight knot of clerical wives
More example sentences
  • They held together and went down the street in tight formation, flanked by cops on all sides.
  • Gophers clump their mounds together in tight groups, and these are flatter and fan-shaped with off-center holes.
  • We stayed together in a tight group as we approached the house.
1.5(Of a community or other group of people) having close relations; secretive: the tenants were far too tight to let anyone know
More example sentences
  • This tight community is reflected in the organization and the fans that come out to games.
  • For all that has happened to him, he is still the product of his background, still the son of a tight community.
  • After World War II, the original incentives to remain a tight community faded away.
close, friendly, intimate, connected, close-knit, tight-knit, on good terms, buddy-buddy
2(Of a rope, fabric, or surface) stretched so as to leave no slack; not loose: the drawcord pulls tight
More example sentences
  • I simply held the fabric tight front and back of the presser foot and let the machine do its work.
  • It was lying loose and not stretched tight when the drawings were made.
  • She also threw on a pair of black slacks that stretched tight over her thin legs.
taut, rigid, stiff, tense, stretched, strained
2.1(Of a part of the body or a bodily sensation) feeling painful and constricted, as a result of anxiety or illness: there was a tight feeling in his gut
More example sentences
  • Every muscle in his body was tight, and Rion had wondered if he'd frozen like that.
  • Early on after my coma the muscles in my body were incredibly tight.
  • She was shaking, her body was tight and her eyes were practically bleeding.
2.2(Of appearance or manner) tense, irritated, or angry: she gave him a tight smile
More example sentences
  • I turned to look at her and she gave me a tight, angry smile.
  • He gives a tough, tight smile as he contemplates his boyhood self, and you can almost hear the schoolchildren of Glasgow breathe a sigh of relief.
  • In his tight, angry face we see a lifetime of struggles and disappointments.
2.3(Of a rule, policy, or form of control) strictly imposed: security was tight at yesterday’s ceremony
More example sentences
  • Security chiefs have decided to impose tight controls to prevent terrorists from slipping into the country.
  • The peasantry in 1300 were living in a world where land was scarce and opportunities for economic advancement were limited by the tight controls of the landowners.
  • The US has since pursued a systematic policy aimed at keeping the UN under tight control.
strict, rigorous, stringent, tough, rigid, firm, uncompromising
2.4(Of a game or contest) with evenly matched competitors; very close: he won in a tight finish
More example sentences
  • And last season excepted, veteran Robert Horry knows how to produce in tight games and the postseason.
  • His willingness to handle the scoring burden in tight games was another sign of his maturity.
  • There isn't a quarterback in the league you'd rather have going for you in the fourth quarter of a tight game.
close, even, evenly matched, well matched;
hard-fought, neck and neck
2.5(Of a written work or form) concise, condensed, or well structured: a tight argument
More example sentences
  • I feel this provides the skills to write tight, clear, and concise papers.
  • It was also necessary to learn how to program incredibly efficiently and write extraordinarily tight code.
  • It's a good, tight, well written speech will lauds us all for showing up.
succinct, concise, pithy, incisive, crisp, condensed, well structured, clean, to the point
2.6(Of an organization or group of people) disciplined or professional; well coordinated: the vocalists are strong, and the band is tight
More example sentences
  • Word spread in the Southwest about the Augusta Futurity's tight organization and added prize money.
  • A tight and disciplined band they are driven by the skills of drummer Rob Townsend.
  • ‘With Zidane coming back, France will play a tight midfield to allow him to be free and do his own thing,’ he noted.
3(Of an area or space) having or allowing little room for maneuver: a tight parking spot it was a tight squeeze in the tiny vestibule
More example sentences
  • Triumph engineers believed that women were unable to park or manoeuvre in tight spaces and so the car had to be able to turn on a sixpence.
  • The steering is light and makes the Fabia very easy to place and manoeuvre around tight spaces.
  • Steering is very light and the car is surprisingly flexible; the turning circle is quite tight, making it easy to manoeuvre in tight spaces once you've got used to the size.
small, tiny, narrow, limited, restricted, confined, cramped, constricted, uncomfortable
rare incommodious
3.1(Of a bend, turn, or angle) changing direction sharply; having a short radius.
Example sentences
  • These bends were so tight that only short, relatively ineffective nets could be used.
  • They will also be racing on the wider expanses of a course that offers a much fairer test of ability than the tight turns and short straight at the Valley.
  • A useful escape tactic to a prey is to initiate a turn before predator closure and rely on a tight turn radius for escape.
3.2(Of money or time) limited or restricted: David was out of work and money was tight an ability to work to tight deadlines
More example sentences
  • If money is tight and restricting you from having the flowers you dream of then why not consider making your own bouquet.
  • ‘We know money is tight, but a contribution would let the veterans know they were remembered,’ said Bob.
  • Money was tight; he couldn't afford the trips on his salary as a counselor at St. Petersburg College.
limited, restricted, in short supply, scarce, depleted, diminished, low, inadequate, insufficient
3.3 informal (Of a person) not willing to spend or give much money; stingy.
4 [predicative] informal Drunk: later, at the club, he got tight on brandy


Very firmly, closely, or tensely: he went downstairs, holding tight to the banisters
More example sentences
  • But this one made his jaw clench tight and his teeth rattle a bit.
  • Silhouette clenched her fists and shut her eyes tight.
  • Shut your eyes tight and try dancing in absolute darkness, with just the sound of anklets and the music to lead you on.



run a tight ship

Be very strict in managing an organization or operation.
Example sentences
  • ‘I want to portray an image of success,’ Gerry admits, to show that it's feasible to be organic and still run a tight ship.
  • And to the sheriff's credit, he runs a tight ship here.
  • Wilkinson runs a tight ship, and any privacy is treasured.

a tight corner (or spot or place)

A difficult situation: her talent for talking her way out of tight corners
More example sentences
  • My situation left me in a tight spot for consideration: lose a possibly extremely lucrative affair, or risk the permanent loss of my only daughter.
  • We're in a bit of a tight spot but we're going to have to go out and battle.
  • I understood perfectly well that I was in a tight spot.
difficult, tricky, delicate, awkward, problematic, worrying, precarious
informal sticky


Middle English (in the sense 'healthy, vigorous', later 'firm, solid'): probably an alteration of thight 'firm, solid', later 'close-packed, dense', of Germanic origin; related to German dicht 'dense, close'.

  • In early medieval times to call someone tight meant that they were healthy or vigorous. The senses we know today came along later, and it was not until the early to mid 19th century that the informal meanings ‘stingy’ and ‘drunk’ appeared. See also tick. A ‘tight ship’ was originally one in which ropes were tightly fastened. From this came the sense of a ship under firm discipline and control—which gives us the expression run a tight ship. Tights are predominantly a women's garment, but they started life as tight-fitting breeches worn by men in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Dancers and acrobats then favoured them, before the first references to women's tights in the 1890s.

Words that rhyme with tight

affright, alight, alright, aright, bedight, bight, bite, blight, bright, byte, cite, dight, Dwight, excite, fight, flight, fright, goodnight, height, ignite, impolite, indict, indite, invite, kite, knight, light, lite, might, mite, night, nite, outfight, outright, plight, polite, quite, right, rite, sight, site, skintight, skite, sleight, slight, smite, Snow-white, spite, sprite, tonight, trite, twite, underwrite, unite, uptight, white, wight, wright, write

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: tight

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