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
c archaic : a narrow space or passage
2 : a situation of perplexity or distress often used in pluralin 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 And as Blankfein notes, business owners and workers are in dire straits. David Goldman, CNN, "Everything you need to know about the predicament we're in ... summarized in two tweets," 22 May 2020 The pandemic's economic fallout left many Venezuelans abroad and the relatives back home who rely on them in dire straits., "Virus Prevents Diaspora Venezuelans From Sending Money Home," 10 May 2020 The people of Midleton — and for that matter, Ireland — never forgot the generosity of the impoverished tribe that sacrificed to assist people in dire straits. Debra Utacia Krol, azcentral, "'We never forgot': Why the Irish are helping Navajo and Hopi tribes hit by pandemic," 8 May 2020 This is really putting many families in dire straits. Rusty Simmons,, "Stanford hospital system to cut pay 20%, furlough workers during coronavirus pandemic," 26 Apr. 2020 Remember to go easy on yourself and others There’s no downplaying how the coronavirus is putting people in dire straits financially. Whizy Kim,, "It’s A Hard Time To Be Job Hunting, But Here’s How You Can Still Stand Out," 2 Apr. 2020 The rise of Oleg Sirota’s cheese business, and its current dire straits, is actually a tale of two crises. Fred Weir, The Christian Science Monitor, "As Moscow locks down, small businesses feel the crunch," 20 Apr. 2020 Know your aid options To help those who find themselves in dire straits, the U.S. government has instituted the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act to help mitigate some of the impact. Lizz Schumer, Good Housekeeping, "How to Make Money Fast From Home During the Coronavirus Pandemic," 17 Apr. 2020 The tank seizure, which happened Iran's Ras al-Kuh coast, comes after a private maritime intelligence firm warned of suspicious incidents in recent days near the strait, through which a fifth of all oil is traded. Fox News, "Iran suspected of seizing, releasing Hong Kong-flagged tanker near Strait of Hormuz," 15 Apr. 2020 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

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

26 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Strait.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2020.

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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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for strait

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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