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See also: Sträit


Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English streit, from Old French estreit (modern form étroit), from Latin strictus, perfect passive participle of stringō (compress, tighten). Doublet of stretto and strict.



strait (comparative straiter, superlative straitest)

  1. (archaic) Narrow; restricted as to space or room; close.
    • 1866, Algernon Swinburne, “Aholibah”, in Poems and Ballads[1], London: John Camden Hotten, page 311:
      Sweet oil was poured out on thy head
      And ran down like cool rain between
      The strait close locks it melted in.
    • 1867, Ralph Waldo Emerson, “May-Day”, in May-Day and Other Pieces, Boston, Mass.: Ticknor and Fields, →OCLC, pages 14–15:
      Where shall we keep the holiday, / And duly greet the entering May? / Too strait and low our cottage doors, / And all unmeet our carpet floors; []
    • 1894, Ernest Dowson, “To One in Bedlam” in The Second Book of The Rhymers’ Club, London: Elkin Mathews & John Lane, p. 35,[2]
      Those scentless wisps of straw, that miserably line
      His strait, caged universe, whereat the dull world stares,
      Pedant and pitiful.
  2. (archaic) Righteous, strict.
    to follow the strait and narrow
  3. (obsolete) Tight; close; tight-fitting.
  4. (obsolete) Close; intimate; near; familiar.
    • a. 1587, Philippe Sidnei [i.e., Philip Sidney], “(please specify the page number)”, in Fulke Greville, Matthew Gwinne, and John Florio, editors, The Countesse of Pembrokes Arcadia [The New Arcadia], London: [] [John Windet] for William Ponsonbie, published 1590, →OCLC; republished in Albert Feuillerat, editor, The Countesse of Pembrokes Arcadia (Cambridge English Classics: The Complete Works of Sir Philip Sidney; I), Cambridge, Cambridgeshire: University Press, 1912, →OCLC:
      After the noble Prince Leonatus had by his fathers death succeeded in the kingdome of Galatia, he (forgetting all former iniuries) had receiued that naughtie Plexirtus into a streight degree of fauour []
  5. (obsolete) Difficult; distressful.
    • 18th c., Thomas Secker, Sermons on Several Subjects, 2nd edition, 1771, Volume III, Sermon XI, p. 253,[3]
      But to make your strait Circumstances yet straiter, for the Sake of idle Gratifications, and distress yourselves in Necessaries, only to indulge in Trifles and Vanities, delicate Food, shewish Dress, ensnaring Diversions, is every Way wrong.
  6. (obsolete) Parsimonious; stingy; mean.
  7. Obsolete spelling of straight.

Usage notes[edit]

The adjective is often confused with straight.

Derived terms[edit]



strait (plural straits)

Sketch of a strait connecting two larger bodies of water.
  1. (geography) A narrow channel of water connecting two larger bodies of water.
    the Strait of Gibraltar
  2. A narrow pass, passage or street.
  3. A neck of land; an isthmus.
    • 1842, Alfred Tennyson, “Morte d’Arthur”, in Poems. [], volume II, London: Edward Moxon, [], →OCLC, page 4:
      The bold Sir Bedivere uplifted him, / Sir Bedivere, the last of all his knights, / And bore him to a chapel nigh the field, / A broken chancel with a broken cross, / That stood on a dark strait of barren land.
  4. (often in the plural) A difficult position.
    to be in dire straits
    • 1684, Robert South, “A Sermon Preached at Westminster-Abbey” in Twelve Sermons Preached upon Several Occasions, London: Thomas Bennett, 1692, p. 420,[4]
      [] let no man, who owns the Belief of a Providence, grow desperate or forlorn, under any Calamity or Strait whatsoever []
    • 1725, Homer, “(please specify the book or chapter of the Odyssey)”, in [William Broome, Elijah Fenton, and Alexander Pope], transl., The Odyssey of Homer. [], volume III, London: [] Bernard Lintot, →OCLC, page 19:
      Plutarch is of opinion that this sleep of Ulysses was feigned; and that he made use of the pretence of natural infirmity to conceal the streights he was in at that time in his thoughts []

Usage notes[edit]

The geographical term straits used in the name of a location (as a proper noun) does not necessarily imply the existence of multiple straits; see for instance the Bering Straits, the Straits of Gibraltar, the Straits of Hormuz, the Straits of Juan de Fuca, the Straits of Magellan, the Straits of Malacca, the Sunda Straits, the Taiwan Straits, etc.

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


strait (third-person singular simple present straits, present participle straiting, simple past and past participle straited)

  1. (obsolete, transitive) To confine; put to difficulties.
    • 1577, Raphael Holinshed, Holinshed’s Chronicles[5], volume 1, London: The Historie of Englande, page 3:
      After Bardus, the Celtes [] were in short tyme, and with small labour broughte vnder the subiection of the Giaunt Albion, the sonne of Neptune, who altering the state of things here in this yland, straited the name of Celtica and the Celtes within the boundes of Gallia []
    • c. 1610–1611 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Winters Tale”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act IV, scene iv]:
      [] If your lass / Interpretation should abuse and call this / Your lack of love or bounty, you were straited / For a reply []
    • 1658, William Sanderson, A Compleat History of the Life and Raigne of King Charles[6], London: Humphrey Moseley, et al, page 885:
      The King, Duke of York, Prince Rupert and Maurice are still at Oxford closely surrounded by the Parliaments Forces, and the other not well resolving what course to take, all their Horse being about Faringdon, in expectation of the Lord Ashley with his Foot to joyn in a Body, if they be not prevented by Colonel Fleetwood and Rainsborough, straiting and allarming Oxford very often []
  2. (obsolete, transitive) To tighten.


strait (comparative straiter, superlative straitest)

  1. (obsolete) Strictly; rigorously.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]