• synonyms


[streyf, strahf]
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verb (used with object), strafed, straf·ing.
  1. to attack (ground troops or installations) by airplanes with machine-gun fire.
  2. Slang. to reprimand viciously.
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  1. a strafing attack.
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Origin of strafe

First recorded in 1910–15, strafe is from the German word strafen to punish
Related formsstraf·er, nounun·strafed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for strafe

bomb, plunder, rob, assault, bombard, blockade, harass, ransack, storm, loot, invade, overrun, swoop, strafe, raid, destroy, attack, blast, hound, besiege

Examples from the Web for strafe

Historical Examples of strafe

  • MORE leaves the window—his face distorted by the strafe of his emotions.

    The Mob (Third Series Plays)

    John Galsworthy

  • When they did grasp it they began to strafe us, and they kep' it up hard all day.

  • Murmuring something that sounded dangerously like "Strafe rules!"

  • Gott strafe the English, and in particular your detestable little boy.

  • If I did my duty as a special, I should "strafe" her for that.'

    Five Tales

    John Galsworthy

British Dictionary definitions for strafe


verb (tr)
  1. to machine-gun (troops, etc) from the air
  2. slang to punish harshly
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  1. an act or instance of strafing
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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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper