Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
See also: Straw


English Wikipedia has an article on:


From Middle English straw, from Old English strēaw, from Proto-Germanic *strawą (that which is strewn). Cognate with Dutch stro, Walloon strin, German Stroh, Norwegian and Swedish strå, Albanian strohë (kennel).



straw (countable and uncountable, plural straws)

  1. (countable) A dried stalk of a cereal plant.
  2. (uncountable) Such dried stalks considered collectively.
  3. (countable) A drinking straw.
  4. A pale, yellowish beige colour, like that of a dried straw.
    straw colour:  
  5. (figuratively) Anything proverbially worthless; the least possible thing.
    • 1889, Robin Hood and the Tanner, Francis James Child (editor), The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, Volume 3, page 138:
      ‘For thy sword and thy bow I care not a straw,
      Nor all thine arrows to boot;
      If I get a knop upon thy bare scop,
      Thou canst as well shite as shoote.’
    • 1857, Anthony Trollope, Barchester Towers:
      He also decided, which was more to his purpose, that Eleanor did not care a straw for him, and that very probably she did care a straw for his rival.
    • 1881, Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque:
      To be deeply interested in the accidents of our existence, to enjoy keenly the mixed texture of human experience, rather leads a man to disregard precautions, and risk his neck against a straw.

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


straw (not comparable)

  1. Made of straw.
    straw hat
  2. Of a pale, yellowish beige colour, like that of a dried straw.
  3. (figuratively) Imaginary, but presented as real.
    A straw enemy built up in the media to seem like a real threat, which then collapses like a balloon.


Derived terms[edit]

See also[edit]


straw (third-person singular simple present straws, present participle strawing, simple past and past participle strawed)

  1. To lay straw around plants to protect them from frost.
  2. (obsolete, slang) To sell straws on the streets in order to cover the giving to the purchaser of things usually banned, such as pornography.
    • 1846, James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps, Letters of the kings of England, page 116:
      It was the custom for the disaffected of those days to make known their grievances by distributing papers on doors of public buildings, and even strawing them in the high way, for the benefit of the chance passenger.
    • 1851, Henry Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor
      I have already alluded to "strawing," which can hardly be described as quackery. It is rather a piece of mountebankery. [] The strawer offers to sell any passer by in the streets a straw and give the purchaser a paper which he dares not sell. Accordingly as he judges of the character of his audience, so he intimates that the paper is political, libellous, irreligious, or indecent.
    • 1884, Nicholas Pocock, Troubles Connected with the Prayer - Book 1549, page 108:
      Forasmoche as there be diverse lewd and sedicious [folks] personnes [being so given to sedicon as they care not f] whiche do labor nowe to mayntain the traitorous doings of the duke of Somerset, and for that purposed do ivise the most vile false and traitorous bills, papers, and boks that ever were harde off, strawing the same in the stretes, aswel within the Citie of London [and] as in diverse [other] townes and other places in the cuntrey; wherein they do falsly and traitorously travail to slaunder the kings mat Counsail, thinking therby to amase and abuse his Mat good subgietts, which be in a redynes to joyne with the said counsail for the delyverey of the king our soveraign Lords most Royal person, remayning to his great peril and damage in the said dukes custody, and for the restoring of this noble Realme to some better order and quietnes, whiche shalbe the benefite [of every man] of us all universally;
    • 1998, Peter Hart, The I.R.A. and Its Enemies: Violence and Community in Cork, 1916-1923, →ISBN, page 182:
      Townspeople who saw 'strawing' and 'following the wran' as invasions by 'lusty young men of the country' saw Volunteer events in the same way.


Middle English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]


From Old English strēaw, from Proto-Germanic *strawą. Some forms are influenced by Old Norse strá.


  • IPA(key): /strau̯/, /streː/
  • (Northern ME) IPA(key): /strɑː/


straw (plural strawes or stren)

  1. The remaining plant material after cultivation; halm, straw.
  2. An individual piece or section of straw.
  3. (figuratively) Anything slight or worthless; the least possible thing.
  4. (rare) A measure of weight for candlewax.

Related terms[edit]