Monday, December 22, 2008


The phrase “sleep tight” came up again on the show. Contaminating the phrase is the internet nonsense claiming that it’s a reference to tightening the ropes supporting a mattress in order to get a good night’s sleep. In reality, tight--as an adverb--means soundly, securely, and to maximum effect, no strings attached.

Be that as it may, the word tight is quite flexible. Here are some of the meanings through the centuries:

• dense, like woods
• in texture or consistency, close or compact
• impervious to the elements
• not leaky
• uncommunicative and secretive
• competent and skillful
• neatly and carefully dressed
• snugly constructed
• fixed firmly in place
• intimate
• not loose or slack
• strict, stringent, and severe
• disciplined and well co-ordinated
• inebriated
• close-fitting
• allowing a vehicle little room to maneuver
• a tough or unyielding person
• difficult to manage
• an evenly matched contest
• unwilling to part with money
• designating a newspaper that has little room for news because there is a great deal of advertising
• closely packed
• terse and condensed writing
• lacking artistic freedom
• a schedule packed with engagements
• a position which is difficult or precarious
• soundly or roundly [1790]
• not allowing movement
• with constriction or pressure

SIDEBAR: Tight building syndrome.

Now available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to and clicking on Listen Now. There is no archive.

Write to Mike with comments or questions:
(substitute @ for AT above)

More Words to the Wise is now available:
Check out Mike's program-based books here:
Arbutus Press
or at

Visit the Senior Corner at

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Dona Sheehan's prints