Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.


Then we tried his home-folks in Boston, but I played that string out in a week.

String out your ropes, boys, and pass over all them picket-pins.

He had played his string out—had come to the end of his trail.

They know what I think—they just want me to string out a lot of excuses for them not to act!

Dicky pulled a piece of string out of some unfathomable pocket.

I took the string out, and told the boy to blow as we passed him.

He snatched the string out of Dick's hand and faced him defiantly.

Automatically he pulled the string out of the grenade and threw it far from him.

Oh, I suppose you'd like to hear me string out a lot of damns.

"Well, you were a precious goose," he said, taking the string out of her hand.


Old English streng "line, cord, thread," from Proto-Germanic *strangiz (cf. Old Norse strengr, Danish streng, Middle Dutch strenge, Dutch streng, Old High German strang, German Strang "rope, cord"), from *strang- "taut, stiff," from PIE root *strenk- "tight, narrow; pull tight, twist" (see strain). Gradually restricted by early Middle English to lines that are smaller than a rope. Sense of "a number of objects arranged in a line" first recorded late 15c.

Old English meaning "ligaments, tendons" is preserved in hamstring, heartstrings. Meaning "limitations, stipulations" (1888) is American English, probably from the common April Fool's joke of leaving a purse that looks full of money on the sidewalk, then tugging it away with an attached string when someone stoops to pick it up. To pull strings "control the course of affairs" (1860) is from the notion of puppet theater. First string, second string, etc. in athletics (1863) is from archers' custom of carrying spare bowstrings in the event that one breaks. Strings "stringed instruments" is attested from mid-14c. String bean is from 1759; string bikini is from 1974.


Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.