strait·​en | \ ˈstrā-tᵊn How to pronounce straiten (audio) \
straitened; straitening\ ˈstrāt-​niŋ How to pronounce straitening (audio) , ˈstrā-​tᵊn-​iŋ \

Definition of straiten

transitive verb

1a : to make strait or narrow
b : to hem in : confine
2 archaic : to restrict in freedom or scope : hamper
3 : to subject to distress, privation, or deficiency in straitened circumstances

Examples of straiten in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Generally, its decisions tend toward loosening rather than straitening the rules. Mary Norris, The New Yorker, "Mary Norris’s Thoughts on Pesky Possessives," 30 Oct. 2019 Despite the fact that the family's construction firm is relatively prosperous due to its generous share of government contracts, the family's finances are considerably straitened. Charles P. Pierce, Esquire, "Paul Ryan Doesn't Know How Insurance Works," 9 Mar. 2017

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

First Known Use of straiten

circa 1552, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about straiten

Time Traveler for straiten

Time Traveler

The first known use of straiten was circa 1552

See more words from the same year

Statistics for straiten

Cite this Entry

“Straiten.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on straiten

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for straiten

Britannica English: Translation of straiten for Arabic Speakers

Comments on straiten

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


Test Your Vocabulary

A Thanksgiving Word Quiz

  • a traditional thanksgiving dinner
  • November comes from a word for which of the following numbers?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!