[ streyt ]
/ streɪt /


Often straits. (used with a singular verb) a narrow passage of water connecting two large bodies of water.
Often straits. a position of difficulty, distress, or need: Ill and penniless, he was in sad straits indeed.
Archaic. a narrow passage or area.
an isthmus.

adjective Archaic.

Nearby words

  1. strained,
  2. strainer,
  3. straining arch,
  4. straining piece,
  5. straining sill,
  6. strait-jacket,
  7. strait-lace,
  8. strait-laced,
  9. straiten,
  10. straitened

Origin of strait

1150–1200; Middle English streit < Old French estreit < Latin strictus past participle of stringere to bind; see strain1

Related formsstrait·ly, adverbstrait·ness, noun

Can be confusedstraight strait Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for strait

British Dictionary definitions for strait


/ (streɪt) /


(often plural)
  1. a narrow channel of the sea linking two larger areas of sea
  2. (capital as part of a name)the Strait of Gibraltar
(often plural) a position of acute difficulty (often in the phrase in dire or desperate straits)
archaic a narrow place or passage

adjective archaic

(of spaces, etc) affording little room
(of circumstances, etc) limiting or difficult
severe, strict, or scrupulous
Derived Formsstraitly, adverbstraitness, noun

Word Origin for strait

C13: from Old French estreit narrow, from Latin strictus constricted, from stringere to bind tightly

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 strait



mid-14c., "narrow, confined space or place," specifically of bodies of water from late 14c., noun use of adjective strait "narrow, strict" (late 13c.), from Old French estreit (French étroit) "tight, close, narrow" (also used as a noun), from Latin strictus, past participle of stringere "bind or draw tight" (see strain (v.)).

Sense of "difficulty, plight" (usually straits) first recorded 1540s. Strait and narrow "conventional way of life" is recorded from mid-14c. (see straight (adj.2)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for strait


[ strāt ]


A narrow passage, such as the upper or lower opening of the pelvic canal.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for strait


[ strāt ]

A narrow waterway joining two larger bodies of water. The Strait of Gibraltar, for example, connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.