\ ˈstrāf How to pronounce strafe (audio) , especially British ˈsträf\
strafed; strafing

Definition of strafe

transitive verb

: to rake (ground troops, an airfield, etc.) with fire at close range and especially with machine-gun fire from low-flying aircraft

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Other Words from strafe

strafe noun
strafer noun

Examples of strafe in a Sentence

The planes strafed the town.

Recent Examples on the Web

The gun is designed for very close range air-to-air fighting or strafing targets on the ground. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "A Dutch F-16 Flew Into Its Own Gunfire," 8 Apr. 2019 Coalition aircraft strafed the mountain a day before our arrival, firing 12 rockets. Jonathan Spyer, WSJ, "ISIS Finds a Niche in Northern Iraq," 5 Dec. 2018 But before the squad’s plane reaches their drop point, it’s strafed with enemy fire. Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "Overlord is a gloriously entertaining piece of B-movie schlock," 9 Nov. 2018 Together, man and machine make a thoroughly watchable buddy-cop duo — call them Cagney and LaCie — and Whannell wisely strafes their ultraviolent misdeeds with a sly comic zip. Isaac Feldberg,, "Call him Re-Animator," 30 May 2018 The 400 guests perched on mirrored cubes amid the great stone ruins to watch the show after nightfall, the runway strafed by fire and lit by the flickering of iron candelabras with elaborate scrollwork. Vanessa Friedman, New York Times, "Gucci Has a Rave in a Cemetery," 31 May 2018 Spastic seabirds, the puffins, murres and a variety of seagulls challenged the boat, sometimes strafing in disdain when no morsels were cast their way. Steve Meyer, Anchorage Daily News, "Even with one bad eye, Alaska’s Barren Islands are a sight to behold," 13 June 2018 So some growers hire helicopters to strafe their crops, using their blades to push higher, warmer air down to the plants. Kevin Dupzyk, Popular Mechanics, "Could a Platoon of Helicopters Have Saved Washington, D.C.'s Cherry Blossoms?," 20 Mar. 2017 Puerto Rico’s government faced immediate scrutiny after initially reporting that 16 people had died as a result of the storm, which strafed much of the island on Sept. 20. Arelis R. Hernández And Laurie Mcginley,, "Harvard study estimates thousands died in Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Maria," 30 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'strafe.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of strafe

1915, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for strafe

German Gott strafe England may God punish England, German propaganda slogan during World War I

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Statistics for strafe

Last Updated

20 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for strafe

The first known use of strafe was in 1915

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More Definitions for strafe



English Language Learners Definition of strafe

: to attack (something) with machine guns from low-flying airplanes

More from Merriam-Webster on strafe

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with strafe

Comments on strafe

What made you want to look up strafe? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not to be persuaded, moved, or stopped

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