Definition of strait

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : a comparatively narrow passageway connecting two large bodies of water often used in plural but singular in construction
b : isthmus
c archaic : a narrow space or passage
2 : a situation of perplexity or distress often used in plural in dire straits


\ ˈstrāt How to pronounce strait (audio) \

Definition of strait (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : causing distress : difficult
b : limited as to means or resources
2 archaic : strict, rigorous
3 archaic
a : narrow
b : limited in space or time
c : closely fitting : constricted, tight



Definition of strait (Entry 3 of 3)

: in a close or tight manner

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Other Words from strait


straitly adverb
straitness noun

Synonyms for strait

Synonyms: Noun

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Choose the Right Synonym for strait


juncture, exigency, emergency, contingency, pinch, strait (or straits) crisis mean a critical or crucial time or state of affairs. juncture stresses the significant concurrence or convergence of events. an important juncture in our country's history exigency stresses the pressure of restrictions or urgency of demands created by a special situation. provide for exigencies emergency applies to a sudden unforeseen situation requiring prompt action to avoid disaster. the presence of mind needed to deal with emergencies contingency implies an emergency or exigency that is regarded as possible but uncertain of occurrence. contingency plans pinch implies urgency or pressure for action to a less intense degree than exigency or emergency. come through in a pinch strait, now commonly straits, applies to a troublesome situation from which escape is extremely difficult. in dire straits crisis applies to a juncture whose outcome will make a decisive difference. a crisis of confidence

strait or straight?

Straight and strait are homophones (“one of two or more words pronounced alike but different in meaning or derivation or spelling”), and many people are in the habit of confusing such creatures, particularly when used in fixed phrases. If you express no emotion you have a straight face; an upright person is a straight shooter; a straight flush is “a poker hand containing five cards of the same suit in sequence.” However, if you find yourself in a difficult situation you are in dire straits. Straitjacket and straitlaced are the more commonly used forms for the restrictive garment and the “strict in manners” adjective, although straightjacket and straightlaced are also occasionally found.

Examples of strait in a Sentence

Noun Her campaign is in desperate straits. The company is in desperate financial straits. The economy is in dire straits.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Assuming a timely response by Washington, the F-35 in combination with other friendly ground, airborne and seaborne forces could quickly reduce any amphibious force seeking to cross the strait. Loren Thompson, Forbes, "Two Biden-Era Flashpoints Where The F-35 Fighter Could Prove Decisive," 12 Mar. 2021 McConnell maneuvered through Trump's four years in office like a captain steering a ship through a rocky strait on stormy seas. Arkansas Online, "GOP's McConnell: Close call but he'll vote to acquit Trump," 14 Feb. 2021 The 36-year Senate veteran maneuvered through Trump's four years in office like a captain steering a ship through a rocky strait on stormy seas. Alan Fram, ajc, "GOP's McConnell: Trump morally responsible for Jan. 6 attack," 14 Feb. 2021 McConnell maneuvered through Trump’s four years in office like a captain steering a ship through a rocky strait on stormy seas. Alan Fram, Anchorage Daily News, "Senate GOP leader McConnell, who voted to acquit Trump, says he is still ‘morally responsible’ for Capitol attack," 13 Feb. 2021 The Cheonghae Unit, which includes South Korean special forces, arrived in the strait on Tuesday aboard the 5,000-ton destroyer Choi Yong, according to the South Korean Defense Ministry. Jake Kwon, CNN, "South Korea sends anti-piracy unit to Persian Gulf after Iran seizes tanker," 5 Jan. 2021 To sit enthroned as usual on the porch of his Naratrany bungalow, gazing out over the strait at the bellying sails of the fishing pirogues and the boutres hauling timber from the Grande Terre. Andrea Lee, The New Yorker, "The Rivals," 28 Dec. 2020 To cross the strait in 6 hours and 52 minutes, Mauricio Prieto, 53, Susan Moody Prieto, 49, and their daughter Carolina Prieto, 16, swam as a three-person family relay team, rotating hour-long shifts in the water. Katy Reckdahl | Staff Writer,, "Family of swimmers from New Orleans successfully crosses "the Mexican English Channel"," 27 Dec. 2020 Shapps earlier said the border snarl-up only affects about 20% of incoming trade, and that haulers are accustomed to disruption across the Dover-Calais strait because of the weather and strikes. Alex Morales,, "Isolated U.K. Seeks to Reopen Trade Route After Days of Chaos," 21 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective He was widely known there as a studious, generally strait-laced young man. New York Times, "Priscilla Read Chenoweth, Who Won Freedom for a Stranger, Dies at 90," 5 Mar. 2021 Randy had a close friend, Robert, a more strait-laced gay man who was in his twenties and a reverend. Michael Waters, The New Yorker, "The Untold Story of Queer Foster Families," 28 Feb. 2021 This is Elle and Darcy too, a glittery girl and her perfectly imperfect, strait-laced yet vulnerable match. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "Hot Stuff: November romances bring mischief, star-crossed lovers, and hot dukes," 4 Dec. 2020 That assessment echoed the appraisals of several current and former co-workers, who said in interviews with The Times that the inspector was quiet, low-key and strait-laced. Alan Feuer, New York Times, "N.Y.P.D. Anti-Harassment Official Accused of Racist Rants," 5 Nov. 2020 Together, the weapons provide Taiwan with the means to deter or disrupt a cross-strait attack. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The U.S. May Soon Sell Taiwan Missiles to Strike China," 29 Oct. 2020 The sale would include SLAM-ER missiles and high-mobility artillery rockets to help Taiwan defend itself if the Chinese military launches a cross-strait invasion. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Strengthening Taiwan’s Defense," 22 Oct. 2020 That makes the prospect of negotiations to tamp down cross-strait tensions more unlikely. Michael Schuman, The Atlantic, "Taiwan Is the Next Front in the U.S.-China Standoff," 10 Oct. 2020 For decades an uneasy status quo governed cross-strait relations. Brad Lendon, CNN, "The US is standing firm with Taiwan, and it's making that point very clear," 2 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'strait.' 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 strait


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1c


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2


13th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for strait


Middle English, from Anglo-French estreit, from Latin strictus strait, strict, from past participle of stringere

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Time Traveler for strait

Time Traveler

The first known use of strait was in the 13th century

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Statistics for strait

Last Updated

24 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Strait.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for strait



English Language Learners Definition of strait

: a narrow passage of water that connects two large bodies of water
: a very difficult situation


\ ˈstrāt How to pronounce strait (audio) \

Kids Definition of strait

1 : a narrow channel connecting two bodies of water
2 : a situation of difficulty or distress often used in pl. The lost hikers were in dire straits.

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Comments on strait

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