in stitches


  1. one complete movement of a threaded needle through a fabric or material such as to leave behind it a single loop or portion of thread, as in sewing, embroidery, or the surgical closing of wounds.
  2. a loop or portion of thread disposed in place by one such movement in sewing: to rip out stitches.
  3. a particular mode of disposing the thread in sewing or the style of work produced by one such method.
  4. one complete movement of the needle or other implement used in knitting, crocheting, netting, tatting, etc.
  5. the portion of work produced.
  6. a thread, bit, or piece of any fabric or of clothing: to remove every stitch of clothes.
  7. the least bit of anything: He wouldn’t do a stitch of work.
  8. a sudden, sharp pain, especially in the intercostal muscles: a stitch in the side.

verb (used with object)

  1. to work upon, join, mend, or fasten with or as if with stitches; sew (often followed by together): to stitch together flour sacks to make curtains; a plan that was barely stitched together.
  2. to ornament or embellish with stitches: to stitch a shirt with a monogram.

verb (used without object)

  1. to make stitches, join together, or sew.
  1. in stitches, convulsed with laughter: The comedian had us in stitches all evening.


  1. a link made by drawing a thread through material by means of a needle
  2. a loop of yarn formed around an implement used in knitting, crocheting, etc
  3. a particular method of stitching or shape of stitch
  4. a sharp spasmodic pain in the side resulting from running or exercising
  5. (usually used with a negative) informal the least fragment of clothinghe wasn’t wearing a stitch
  6. agriculture the ridge between two furrows
  7. drop a stitch to allow a loop of wool to fall off a knitting needle accidentally while knitting
  8. in stitches informal laughing uncontrollably


  1. (tr) to sew, fasten, etc, with stitches
  2. (intr) to be engaged in sewing
  3. (tr) to bind together (the leaves of a book, pamphlet, etc) with wire staples or thread

noun, verb

  1. an informal word for suture (def. 1b), suture (def. 6)

Old English stice “a prick, puncture,” from Proto-Germanic *stikiz, from the root of stick (v.). The sense of “sudden, stabbing pain in the side” was in late Old English. Senses in sewing and shoemaking first recorded late 13c.; meaning “bit of clothing one is (or isn’t) wearing” is from c.1500. Meaning “a stroke of work” (of any kind) is attested from 1580s. Surgical sense first recorded 1520s. Sense of “amusing person or thing” is 1968, from notion of laughing so much one gets stitches of pain (cf. verbal expression to have (someone) in stitches, 1935).


early 13c., “to stab, pierce,” also “to fasten or adorn with stitches;” see stitch (n.). Related: Stitched; stitching.


  1. A sudden sharp pain, especially in the side.
  2. A single suture.


  1. To suture.

Laughing uncontrollably, as in Joke after joke had me in stitches. Although the precise idiom dates only from about 1930, Shakespeare had a similar expression in Twelfth Night (3:2): “If you desire the spleen, and will laugh yourselves into stitches, follow me.” Stitches here refers to the sharp local pain (known as a stitch in the side) that can make one double over, much as a fit of laughter can.

In addition to the idiom beginning with stitch

  • stitch in time, a

also see:

  • in stitches
  • without a stitch on

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