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stray

[strey]
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verb (used without object)
  1. to deviate from the direct course, leave the proper place, or go beyond the proper limits, especially without a fixed course or purpose; ramble: to stray from the main road.
  2. to wander; roam: The new puppy strayed from room to room.
  3. to go astray; deviate, as from a moral, religious, or philosophical course: to stray from the teachings of the church.
  4. to digress or become distracted.
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noun
  1. a domestic animal found wandering at large or without an owner.
  2. any homeless or friendless person or animal.
  3. a person or animal that strays: the strays of a flock.
  4. strays, Radio. static.
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adjective
  1. straying or having strayed, as a domestic animal.
  2. found or occurring apart from others or as an isolated or casual instance; incidental or occasional.
  3. Radio. undesired: stray capacitance.
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Origin of stray

1250–1300; (v.) Middle English strayen, aphetic variant of astraien, estraien < Middle French estraier < Vulgar Latin *extrāvagāre to wander out of bounds (see extravagant); (noun) Middle English, in part derivative of the v., in part < Anglo-French stray, Middle French estrai, derivative of estraier
Related formsstray·er, nounun·stray·ing, adjective

Synonyms

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1. rove, range. 2. meander. 3. err.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for stray

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • It is present in all his works, in stray letters and detached passages.

  • Her thoughts could not stray far from the letter and—from other things!

  • He did not propose to have his plans spoiled by these stray guests.

    The Little Colonel

    Annie Fellows Johnston

  • As much to me as if a stray, migratory mule had rambled into the wood and found me, and I him.

    Green Mansions

    W. H. Hudson

  • I am such a waif and stray everywhere, that I am liable to be drifted where any current may set.'

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens


British Dictionary definitions for stray

stray

verb (intr)
  1. to wander away, as from the correct path or from a given area
  2. to wander haphazardly
  3. to digress from the point, lose concentration, etc
  4. to deviate from certain moral standards
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noun
    1. a domestic animal, fowl, etc, that has wandered away from its place of keeping and is lost
    2. (as modifier)stray dogs
  1. a lost or homeless person, esp a childwaifs and strays
  2. an isolated or random occurrence, specimen, etc, that is out of place or outside the usual pattern
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adjective
  1. scattered, random, or haphazarda stray bullet grazed his thigh
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Derived Formsstrayer, noun

Word Origin

C14: from Old French estraier, from Vulgar Latin estragāre (unattested), from Latin extrā- outside + vagāri to roam; see astray, extravagant, stravaig
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for stray

v.

c.1300, a shortening of Old French estraier "wander about," literally "go about the streets," from estree "route, highway," from Late Latin via strata "paved road" (see street). On another theory, the Old French word is from Vulgar Latin *estragare, a contraction of *estravagare, representing Latin extra vagari "to wander outside" (see extravagant). Figurative sense of "to wander from the path of rectitude" is attested from early 14c.

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n.

"domestic animal found wandering," early 13c., from Old French estraié "strayed," past participle of estraier (see stray (v.)). The adjective is first recorded c.1600.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper