strait

1 of 3

noun

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

strait

2 of 3

adjective

1
a
: 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
straitly adverb
straitness noun

strait

3 of 3

adverb

obsolete
: in a close or tight manner

Did you know?

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.

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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
In these dire straits, rather than keel over and die, many organisms have mastered the art of dormancy. Dan Samorodnitsky, Quanta Magazine, 5 June 2024 Trump caught his fair share of flak in Jost’s set too, as did standard Correspondents’ Dinner target Fox News, the media industry’s dire straits writ large, Mitch McConnell, and Jost’s hometown borough of Staten Island. Hershal Pandya, Vulture, 28 Apr. 2024
Adjective
Streaming services, led by Netflix and Amazon’s Prime Video, had become the effective gatekeepers of international film sales, and that gate is still very strait. John Hopewell, Variety, 18 Nov. 2023 Beijing is hoping that the Nationalist Party, or Kuomintang, which favors closer cross-strait trade and exchanges, wins Taiwan’s presidential election next year. Amy B Wang, Washington Post, 5 Apr. 2023 See all Example Sentences for strait 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'strait.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

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

First Known Use

Noun

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

Adjective

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Adverb

13th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near strait

Cite this Entry

“Strait.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/strait. Accessed 25 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

strait

noun
ˈstrāt
1
a
: a narrow channel connecting two large bodies of water
often used in plural
b
2
: a situation of confusion or distress
often used in plural
in difficult straits

More from Merriam-Webster on strait

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