The following context comes from the book "White Redneck And White Liberals" by Thomas Sowell

"Frederick Law Olmsted’s description of a typical preacher in the antebellum South noted that "the speaker nearly all the time cried aloud at the utmost stretch of his voice, as if calling to someone a long distance off,""

Stretch (Merriam Webster) : at one time without stopping She can sit and read for hours at a stretch.

Does it mean that he cried without stopping for a wery long time?

2 Answers 2


'Stretching' one's voice means pushing it to its limits. A voice can be 'stretched' in different ways - by trying to reach a high pitch, by shouting at a high volume, or as you suggest, by speaking for a long time. All three of these can lead to strained vocal cords.

As always, the context explains:

[he] cried aloud at the utmost stretch of his voice.

So, it seems the voice was being stretched to be as loud as possible.

  • Can you provide a dictionary definition for this sense of the word stretch? Commented Jun 19, 2022 at 20:58

"Cried aloud" here means "spoke aloud", not "cried" in the sense of "wept".It does not mean "cried without stopping". The "utmost stretch" tells you he spoke with the loudest voice he possibly could, "as if calling to someone a long distance off".

See these definitions from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary:


8 b: to extend or expand as if by physical force
// stretch one's mind with a good book

10 a: to amplify or enlarge beyond natural or proper limits
// the rules can be stretched this once

  • I mean that cry basically means scream, so this is what I meant when I rewritten it. Commented Jun 19, 2022 at 20:56
  • Cry can also mean shout, call out, which is the sense here. Commented Jun 20, 2022 at 7:20

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