[ streyf, strahf ]
/ streɪf, strɑf /

verb (used with object), strafed, straf·ing.

to attack (ground troops or installations) by airplanes with machine-gun fire.
Slang. to reprimand viciously.


a strafing attack.

Nearby words

  1. stradella,
  2. stradella, alessandro,
  3. stradivari,
  4. stradivari, antonio,
  5. stradivarius,
  6. strafford,
  7. straggle,
  8. straggler,
  9. straggly,
  10. straight

Origin of strafe

First recorded in 1910–15, strafe is from the German word strafen to punish

Related formsstraf·er, nounun·strafed, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for strafe

British Dictionary definitions for strafe


/ (streɪf, strɑːf) /

verb (tr)

to machine-gun (troops, etc) from the air
slang to punish harshly


an act or instance of strafing
Derived Formsstrafer, noun

Word Origin for strafe

C20: from German strafen to punish

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 strafe



1915, "punish, attack," picked up by British soldiers from German strafen "to punish" (from Proto-Germanic *stræf-), in slogan Gott strafe England "May God punish England," current in Germany c.1914-16 at the start of World War I. The word used for many kinds of attack at first; meaning "shoot up ground positions from low-flying aircraft" emerged as the main sense 1942. Related: Strafed; strafing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper