1. Often straits. (used with a singular verb) a narrow passage of water connecting two large bodies of water.
  2. Often straits. a position of difficulty, distress, or need: Ill and penniless, he was in sad straits indeed.
  3. Archaic. a narrow passage or area.
  4. an isthmus.
adjective Archaic.
  1. narrow: Strait is the gate.
  2. affording little space; confined in area.
  3. strict, as in requirements or principles.

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

Synonyms for strait

Antonyms for strait

2. ease. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for straitly

Historical Examples of straitly

  • His senses were so straitly tied to his brains that to pluck at one was to thrill the other.

    Little Novels of Italy

    Maurice Henry Hewlett

  • Straitly commanded by the Admirall, At the same Port to settle their aboad.

  • You were ready enough to do so, and the two old men charged you much and straitly.

  • Lay aside this foolish fashion of speech and say straitly what you desire.

    Sir Nigel

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • He found the Court gates “straitly guarded,” so that he was not allowed to enter.

    It Might Have Been

    Emily Sarah Holt

British Dictionary definitions for straitly


  1. (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
  2. (often plural) a position of acute difficulty (often in the phrase in dire or desperate straits)
  3. archaic a narrow place or passage
adjective archaic
  1. (of spaces, etc) affording little room
  2. (of circumstances, etc) limiting or difficult
  3. 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 straitly



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

straitly in Medicine


  1. 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.

straitly in Science


  1. 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.