- to deviate from the direct course, leave the proper place, or go beyond the proper limits, especially without a fixed course or purpose; ramble: to stray from the main road.
- to wander; roam: The new puppy strayed from room to room.
- to go astray; deviate, as from a moral, religious, or philosophical course: to stray from the teachings of the church.
- to digress or become distracted.
- a domestic animal found wandering at large or without an owner.
- any homeless or friendless person or animal.
- a person or animal that strays: the strays of a flock.
- strays, Radio. static.
- straying or having strayed, as a domestic animal.
- found or occurring apart from others or as an isolated or casual instance; incidental or occasional.
- Radio. undesired: stray capacitance.
Origin of stray
SynonymsSee more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
Related Wordsdepart, wander, diverge, swerve, err, drift, roam, meander, deviate, homeless, roaming, vagrant, roving, lost, digress, divagate, ramble, sin, traipse, turn
Examples from the Web for stray
She narrowed her eyes, bit her lip as if to chew over the question, and whisked some stray blond hairs away from her face.Powerful Congressman Writes About ‘Fleshy Breasts’
January 7, 2015
While some stray from the fold, most stay with the same pack their entire lives.Mongooses, Meerkats, and Ants, Oh My! Why Some Animals Keep Mating All in the Family
December 29, 2014
On the weekends the birds and stray cats keep the artists company as they set up their displays.The Life and Hard Times Of The Family A Cuban Defector Left Behind
December 19, 2014
The film tells the story of Ron “Stray Dog” Hall, a burly, sixtysomething biker and Vietnam vet.Life After ‘Winter’s Bone’: Debra Granik on Finding J. Law and the Plight of the Female Director
October 24, 2014
Three stray dogs saunter out of our way as we turn into a residential area lined with trailers and graffiti-sprayed stop signs.A Shooting on a Tribal Land Uncovers Feds Running Wild
August 26, 2014
It is present in all his works, in stray letters and detached passages.De Libris: Prose and Verse
Her thoughts could not stray far from the letter and—from other things!Quaint Courtships
He did not propose to have his plans spoiled by these stray guests.The Little Colonel
Annie Fellows Johnston
As much to me as if a stray, migratory mule had rambled into the wood and found me, and I him.Green Mansions
W. H. Hudson
I am such a waif and stray everywhere, that I am liable to be drifted where any current may set.'Little Dorrit
- to wander away, as from the correct path or from a given area
- to wander haphazardly
- to digress from the point, lose concentration, etc
- to deviate from certain moral standards
- a domestic animal, fowl, etc, that has wandered away from its place of keeping and is lost
- (as modifier)stray dogs
- a lost or homeless person, esp a childwaifs and strays
- an isolated or random occurrence, specimen, etc, that is out of place or outside the usual pattern
- scattered, random, or haphazarda stray bullet grazed his thigh
Word Origin and History for stray
c.1300, a shortening of Old French estraier "wander about," literally "go about the streets," from estree "route, highway," from Late Latin via strata "paved road" (see street). On another theory, the Old French word is from Vulgar Latin *estragare, a contraction of *estravagare, representing Latin extra vagari "to wander outside" (see extravagant). Figurative sense of "to wander from the path of rectitude" is attested from early 14c.
"domestic animal found wandering," early 13c., from Old French estraié "strayed," past participle of estraier (see stray (v.)). The adjective is first recorded c.1600.