\ˈstrāt \

Definition of strait 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1 archaic : strict, rigorous

2 archaic

a : narrow

b : limited in space or time

c : closely fitting : constricted, tight

3a : causing distress : difficult

b : limited as to means or resources



Definition of strait (Entry 2 of 3)


: in a close or tight manner



Definition of strait (Entry 3 of 3)

1a archaic : a narrow space or passage

b : a comparatively narrow passageway connecting two large bodies of water often used in plural but singular in construction

c : isthmus

2 : a situation of perplexity or distress often used in plural in dire straits

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Other Words from strait


straitly adverb
straitness noun

Synonyms for strait

Synonyms: Noun

channel, narrows, neck, sound

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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


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: Adjective

India will have to gird for the coming border war with an expansionist China, and Taiwan will prepare for the inevitable cross-strait invasion. Jerry Hendrix, National Review, "Why the United States Needs a 355-Ship Navy Now," 18 Oct. 2017 While other performers revel in the inherent humor of their roles, Laura Carns is entrusted with the more strait-laced persona of Alice Sycamore. Bob Kostanczuk, Post-Tribune, "Opera House brings new life to 'You Can't Take it With You'," 6 Sep. 2017 One of the world's most important sea lanes, millions of barrels of oil and petroleum products pass through the strait daily, according to Brad Lendon And Steve George, CNN, "China sends troops to Djibouti, establishes first overseas military base," 13 July 2017 A laconic, strait-laced, hilariously hard-boiled investigator with an encyclopedic knowledge of perps past and present, Miramontes’ Charlie isn’t about to be led around by the nose by femmes Mona or Veronica. Orange County Register, "‘Kill Me, Deadly’ in Fullerton delivers dead-on parody of film noir," 29 Mar. 2017 Subsequent episodes, including one in which the most strait-laced teacher got looped on alcohol and ran wild and naked through the halls like a demented leprechaun, maintained the madcap standard. James Wolcott, HWD, "5 Underrated TV Shows You Should Watch Right Now," 18 Jan. 2017 Subsequent episodes, including one in which the most strait-laced teacher got looped on alcohol and ran wild and naked through the halls like a demented leprechaun, maintained the madcap standard. James Wolcott,, "5 Underrated TV Shows You Should Watch Right Now," 18 Jan. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

On Monday, ships were once again moving through the strait, the Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority said, with more than 30 ships waiting to cross on both sides. Farnaz Fassihi, WSJ, "Haley Calls Russia Reckless in Tense Standoff With Ukraine," 26 Nov. 2018 New oil and gas pipelines are already reducing tanker traffic through the straits, according to a report by Istanbul’s Chamber of Environmental Engineers. New York Times, "A Canal Through Turkey? Presidential Vote Is a Test of Erdogan’s Building Spree," 21 June 2018 The Liaoning battle group sailed through the strait on its way back from a voyage to Hainan Island, where it was tied up for several days. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "China's Only Aircraft Carrier Engages in a Little Saber-Rattling," 12 Jan. 2017 The quota system has by some accounts simply morphed again; the lawsuit is in dire straits. Julia Felsenthal, Vogue, "Crime + Punishment," 22 Aug. 2018 Then, as now, banks were still reluctant to lend because the government was simultaneously in the midst of a big crackdown on shadow finance, meaning many borrowers were in dire straits. Nathaniel Taplin, WSJ, "China’s Housing-Market Headache," 15 Aug. 2018 For two months Gellhorn stayed in what would later be named the Lincoln Bedroom, helping Eleanor answer sheaves of mail from people in dire straits. Paula Mclain, Town & Country, "The Extraordinary Life of Martha Gellhorn, the Woman Ernest Hemingway Tried to Erase," 12 July 2018 The segment that crosses the 5-mile-wide (8-kilometer-wide) straits linking Lakes Huron and Michigan is divided into two side-by-side pipes that were laid on the lake bottom in 1953. Washington Post, "Senators want temporary halt of oil flow through pipelines," 13 Apr. 2018 Turning around any school district in such straits would be difficult, but Inglewood Unified is caught in a particularly destructive cycle. Anna M. Phillips,, "Six years after the state came in to save Inglewood Unified, the district faces a budget crisis, buildings in disrepair and lack of steady leadership," 10 Apr. 2018

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


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


13th century, in the meaning defined above


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

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

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

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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

straits : a very difficult situation


\ˈstrāt \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on strait

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with strait

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for strait

Spanish Central: Translation of strait

Nglish: Translation of strait for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of strait for Arabic Speakers

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