straw

[ straw ]
/ strɔ /

noun

adjective

Idioms

    catch/clutch/grasp at a straw/straws/any straw(s), to seize at any chance, no matter how slight, of saving oneself from calamity.
    draw straws, to decide by lottery using straws or strawlike items of different lengths, usually with the short straw or straws determining the person chosen or the loser.

Origin of straw

before 950; Middle English; Old English strēaw; cognate with German Stroh; akin to strew

Related forms

straw·less, adjectivestraw·like, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for draw straws (1 of 3)

straw

1
/ (strɔː) /

noun

adjective

mainly US having little value or substance
See also man of straw

Derived Forms

strawlike, adjective

Word Origin for straw

Old English streaw; related to Old Norse strā, Old Frisian strē, Old High German strō; see strew

British Dictionary definitions for draw straws (2 of 3)

straw

2
/ (strɔː) /

verb

archaic another word for strew

British Dictionary definitions for draw straws (3 of 3)

Straw

/ (strɔː) /

noun

Jack, full name John Whitaker Straw. born 1946, British Labour politician; Home Secretary (1997–2001); Foreign Secretary (2001–06); Lord Chancellor (2007–10)
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

Idioms and Phrases with draw straws (1 of 2)

draw straws


Also, draw lots. Decide by a lottery using straws of different lengths. For example, Let's draw straws to see who will write the first draft. The lots version dates from the 1400s, whereas straws dates from the 1800s. Both have replaced the still older draw cuts. Another variant is draw the short straw, meaning to be the one so selected for a particular task.

Idioms and Phrases with draw straws (2 of 2)

straw


In addition to the idioms beginning with straw

  • straw boss
  • straw in the wind
  • straw that breaks the camel's back
  • straw vote

also see:

  • draw straws
  • grasp at straws
  • last straw
  • make bricks without straw
  • not worth a dime (straw)
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.