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tight (tīt)
adj. tight·er, tight·est
1. Fixed or fastened firmly in place: a tight lid; tight screws; a tight knot.
2. Stretched or drawn out fully: a tight wire; a tight drumhead.
3. Of such close construction as to be impermeable: cloth tight enough to hold water; warm in our tight little cabin.
a. Leaving little empty space through compression; compact: a tight suitcase; a tight weave.
b. Affording little spare time; full: a tight schedule.
5. Closely reasoned or concise: a tight argument; a tight style of writing.
6. Fitting close or too close to the skin; snug: a tight collar; a fit that was much too tight.
7. Slang Personally close; intimate: "me and the D.A., who happen to be very tight with one another" (Tom Wolfe).
8. Experiencing a feeling of constriction: a tight feeling in the chest.
9. Reluctant to spend or give; stingy.
a. Obtainable with difficulty or only at a high price: tight money.
b. Affected by scarcity: a tight market.
11. Difficult to deal with or get out of: a tight spot.
12. Barely profitable: a tight bargain.
13. Closely contested; close: a tight match.
14. Chiefly British Neat and trim in appearance or arrangement.
15. Marked by full control over elements or subordinates; firm: tight management; a tight orchestral performance.
16. Slang Intoxicated; drunk.
17. Baseball Inside.
adv. tight·er, tight·est
1. Firmly; securely.
2. Soundly: sleep tight.
3. Snugly or with constriction: My shoes are laced too tight.

[Middle English, dense, of Scandinavian origin.]

tightly adv.
tightness n.

Synonyms: tight, taut, tense1
These adjectives mean not slack or loose on account of being pulled or drawn out fully: a tight skirt; taut sails; tense piano strings.

Usage Note: Tight is used as an adverb following verbs that denote a process of closure or constriction, as squeeze, shut, close, tie, and hold. In this use it is subtly distinct from the adverb tightly. Tight denotes the state resulting from the process, whereas tightly denotes the manner of its application. As such, tight is more appropriate when the focus is on a state that endures for some time after the activity has ended. The sentence She closed up the house tight suggests preparation for an impending blizzard. By the same token, it is more natural to say The windows were frozen tight than The windows were frozen tightly, since in this case the tightness of the seal is not likely to be the result of the manner in which the windows were frozen. With a few verbs tight is used idiomatically as an intensive and is the only possible form: sleep tight; sit tight. Tight can be used only following the verb: The house was shut tight (not tight shut). Before the verb, use tightly: The house was tightly shut.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.