What is a verb for removing gaps between a sequence so that it is all contiguous again ?

This action happens for example when you defragment your computer disk, or let's stay you are in a store and someone picks articles from the middle of a selection and then you tighten them back all together so that they are close to each other again.

"Defragment" and "Tighten" are thus good candidates, but I was wondering if there was a more accurate term for this?

closed as off-topic by AmE speaker, Scott, user067531, Skooba, Rory Alsop Jul 17 '18 at 16:10

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pack (TFD)

To bring together (persons or things) closely; crowd together: managed to pack 300 students into the lecture hall.
b. To fill up tight; cram.

Note the words "bring together closely" in a and "tight" in b. However, it does not imply removing all gaps or achieving overall contiguity in a strictly technical sense.

I use this word in all formal general English writing in the above sense(s).


Synonyms for trim

Trim, in computer programming, describes the removal of spaces. Particular synonyms for trim are descriptively appropriate.

  • Compact: closely and neatly packed together; dense.

Synonyms for tighten

Particular synonyms for tighten are descriptively appropriate.

  • Bind: tie or fasten (something) tightly together.
  • Compress: flatten by pressure; squeeze or press.
  • Condense: make (something) denser or more concentrated.
  • Congeal: decrease in size, number, or range.
  • Tauten: to make (something) tight or taut or to become tight or taut.
  • Constrict: make narrower, especially by encircling pressure.

Synonyms for combine

The following synonyms imply one whole part as an end result but may not explicitly enough imply tightening:

  • Coalesce: come together to form one mass or whole.
  • Agglutinate: firmly stick or be stuck together to form a mass.
  • Cohere: form a unified whole.

Synonyms for redistribute

Particular synonyms for redistribute are descriptively appropriate.

  • Reassemble: (of a group) gather together again.
  • Renovate: (of a group) gather together again.
  • Reconstitute: build up again from parts; reconstruct.

The most accurate synonyms

Of the listed synonyms, the most accurate, in order of accuracy, are compact, reassemble, renovate, compress, condense, constrict and congeal.

That being said, defragment is an accurate descriptor as it stands.


Removing gaps could be considered joining (or rejoining if it is a return to a previously ungapped state).

  • Would the down-voter please comment so that I can know the error/issue/improvement needed? – L. Scott Johnson Jul 15 '18 at 12:47


: to alter or rearrange especially by manipulating - jigger an election district

"Jigger." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 13 July 2018.

More idiomatically - rejigger. It's not specific to removing gaps, but accommodative to that action. It would normally need a bit of lexical help to get that specific point across.

: alter, rearrange

"Rejigger." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 13 July 2018.

Interestingly, MW identifies the first as informal, but gives the second a pass.

Grammarist has the following to say - "Both rejig and rejigger mean to rearrange an object. Rejigger is the preferred form in the US, and outside the US the standard is rejig."


WordReference.com has an additional usage note - "to change or rearrange in a new or different way, esp. by the use of techniques not always considered ethical. And they do mark it as informal.


This may often be the context in journalistic use, but in my opinion, isn't associated with the word itself, at least not in my dialect where it is a common, everyday word.

As mentioned above, (re)pack is sometimes more idiomatic. For instance, the hotel desk manager is responsible for "repacking the grid", meaning shuffling room assignments around to remove small vacancies and free up larger blocks of vacancies - repacking in order to remove gaps in occupancy.

Most other options, such as fix or tidy imply more than just adjusting the position of things.

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