straiten

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English[edit]

Verb[edit]

straiten (third-person singular simple present straitens, present participle straitening, simple past and past participle straitened)

  1. To make strait; to narrow or confine to a smaller space.
    The channel straitened the river through the town, made it flow faster, and caused more flooding upstream.
  2. To restrict or diminish, especially financially.
    • 1662, Henry More, An Antidote Against Atheism, Book II, A Collection of Several Philosophical Writings of Dr. Henry More, p. 67:
      "And the reason why Birds are Oviparous and lay Eggs, but do not bring forth their yong alive, is, because there might be more plenty of them also, and that neither the Birds of prey, the Serpent nor the Fowler, should streighten their generations too much."
    Rising costs put those on fixed incomes in straitened circumstances.
  3. Misspelling of straighten.

Usage notes[edit]

To "straighten the river channel" means to remove the bends and curves, but not necessarily to narrow it. To "straiten the river channel" means to make it narrow, but not necessarily to make it straight. The same construction project could have both effects.

The difference may be seen in the nautical term "strait", for example Bass Strait (off the south coast of Victoria, Australia), which is a narrow stretch of sea. It is also used in the expression "to be in dire straits", as in perilously tight circumstances.

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