\ ˈstrāt How to pronounce strait (audio) \

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

The most likely culprit for the destruction is a volcano in the middle of the strait, Anak Krakatau. Mary Beth Griggs, The Verge, "Deadly Indonesian tsunami was not caused by an earthquake," 23 Dec. 2018 Saving people from dire straits is Richard Saul’s specialty. Lindsay Peyton, Houston Chronicle, "With countless Harvey rescues, firefighter keeps pushing through," 29 June 2018 Yet lawmakers and child advocates say that while the new administration is making things better, some kids are still in dire straits across Kansas. Laura Bauer And Hunter Woodall, kansascity, "Some Kansas foster children are still missing as others sleep in offices | The Kansas City Star," 21 Apr. 2018 The Belt and Road Initiative would develop land routes around maritime choke points that the U.S. patrols like the straits of Hormuz and Malacca. Michael Singh, WSJ, "Beijing’s Curious Silence on the Syria Withdrawal," 8 Jan. 2019 In addition, costumes sometimes depict gruesome scenarios related to self-harm, harming others, or mental health institutions (strait jackets, etc.). Brittney Mcnamara, Teen Vogue, "Why It's Not OK to Dress Up as Someone With a Disability for Halloween," 15 Oct. 2018 The straits area is used frequently by cargo ships and recreational boats. John Flesher,, "Senators want temporary halt of oil flow through Great Lakes pipelines over possible damage," 13 Apr. 2018 The only other obvious asset of his, Faraday Future, is in dire straits. Sean O'kane, The Verge, "Faraday Future CEO’s long trail of debt is finally catching up to him," 8 Dec. 2018 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

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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Statistics for strait

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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
: 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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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

Comments on strait

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


a shady place in a garden or forest

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