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Alternative forms[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English streete, strete, stret, strate, from Old English strǣt (a road, a town-road, a street, a paved road, high road), from Proto-Germanic *strātō (street), an early borrowing from Late Latin (via) strāta (paved (road)), from strātus, past participle of sternō (stretch out, spread, bestrew with, cover, pave), from Proto-Indo-European *sterh₃- (to stretch out, extend, spread). Cognate with Scots stret, strete, streit (street), Saterland Frisian Sträite (street), West Frisian strjitte (street), Dutch straat (street), Low German strate (street), German Straße (street), Swedish stråt (way, path), Icelandic stræti (street) (Scandinavian forms are borrowed from Old English), Portuguese estrada (road, way, drive), Italian strada (road, street). Related to Old English strēowian, strewian (to strew, scatter). More at strew.



street (plural streets)

a street
  1. A paved part of road, usually in a village or a town.
    Walk down the street.
  2. A road as above but including the sidewalks (pavements) and buildings.
    I live on the street down from Joyce Avenue.
  3. The people who live in such a road, as a neighborhood.
  4. The people who spend a great deal of time on the street in urban areas, especially, the young, the poor, the unemployed, and those engaged in illegal activities.
  5. (slang) Street talk or slang.
    • 2008, Andrew Fleming and Pam Brady, Hamlet 2, Focus Features
      Toaster is street for guns.
  6. (figuratively) A great distance.
    He's streets ahead of his sister in all the subjects in school.
    • 2011, Tom Fordyce, Rugby World Cup 2011: England 12-19 France [1]
      England were once again static in their few attacks, only Tuilagi's bullocking runs offering any threat, Flood reduced to aiming a long-range drop-goal pit which missed by a street.
  7. (poker slang) Each of the three opportunities that players have to bet, after the flop, turn and river.
  8. Illicit, contraband, especially of a drug
    I got some pot cheap on the street.

Usage notes[edit]

In the generical sense of "a road", the term is often used interchangeably with road, avenue, and other similar terms.

In the English language, in its narrow usage street specifically means a paved route within a settlement (generally city or town), reflecting the etymology, while a road is a route between two settlements. Further, in many American cities laid out on a grid (notably Manhattan, New York City) streets are contrasted with avenues and run perpendicular to each other, with avenues frequently wider and longer than streets.

In the sense of "a road", the prepositions in and on have distinct meanings when used with street, with "on the street" having idiomatic meaning in some dialects. In general for thoroughfares, "in" means "within the bounds of", while "on" means "on the surface of, especially traveling or lying", used relatively interchangeably ("don’t step in the road without looking", "I met her when walking on the road").

By contrast, "living on the street" means to be living an insecure life, often homeless or a criminal. Further, to "hear something on the street" means to learn through rumor, also phrased as "word on the street is...".


Derived terms[edit]



street (comparative more street, superlative most street)

  1. (slang) Having street cred; conforming to modern urban trends.
    • 2003, Mercedes Lackey, Rosemary Edghill, James P. Baen, Mad Maudlin
      Eric had to admit that she looked street—upscale street, but still street. Kayla's look tended to change with the seasons; at the moment it was less Goth than paramilitary, with laced jump boots.