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
b : isthmus
c archaic : a narrow space or passage
2 : a situation of perplexity or distress often used in plural in 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 China released footage of soldiers throwing smoke grenades and storming a beach in a province directly across the strait from Taiwan. Gordon Lubold, WSJ, 22 Oct. 2021 Every year, enough cargo passes through the strait to account for some ten per cent of the world’s trade. The New Yorker, 4 Oct. 2021 Nonetheless, invading and occupying Taiwan after launching a gigantic, logistically taxing amphibious operation across a 110-mile strait would be no small feat, to put it mildly. Rich Lowry, National Review, 5 Oct. 2021 Taiwan—dwarfed in size by China, separated by only a narrow strait, and with few formal friends—should prepare for the same. Timothy Mclaughlin, The Atlantic, 2 Sep. 2021 An exception was made for ferries that frequently ply the narrow strait between Sicily and Calabria, a route taken by many commuters and students. Frances D'emilio, USA TODAY, 9 Aug. 2021 Fueled by a brutal heat wave, the fires on Evia — a large island connected to the mainland by a narrow strait — have been burning for days. Washington Post, 10 Aug. 2021 Across the strait, a mountain soars up into a flattened peak, crenellated like the spine of a large dinosaur. Claire Messud, Harper's Magazine, 20 July 2021 Which is why, when the H-6 bombers passed over the strait on Wednesday, fighters accompanied them. David Axe, Forbes, 17 June 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective As the air and missile war rages, the invasion force would begin its cross-strait assault. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 21 Oct. 2021 Since coming into to power in 2016, Tsai has tiptoed the acceptable bounds of the cross-strait relationship but has never publicly embraced independence nor the 1992 Consensus, the latter angering Beijing. Karson Yiu, ABC News, 17 Oct. 2021 When Sky falls for a strait-laced mission director named Sergeant Sarah Brown, played by Erin Imer, love muddles the master plan, creating confusion for all. Philip Potempa,, 24 Sep. 2021 As a judicial law clerk for the city, Alicia was worried that she’d be paired with a strait-laced lawyer. Washington Post, 26 Aug. 2021 China's Taiwan Affairs Office did not respond to questions about that analysis, but accused Taiwanese authorities of inciting anti-China hatred and increasing cross-strait conflicts. Eric Cheung, Will Ripley And Gladys Tsai, CNN, 23 July 2021 Aso, asked about Japan's stance on the cross-strait issue at a news conference on Tuesday, said any contingency over Taiwan should be resolved through dialogue. NBC News, 16 July 2020 The runway on Mayun Island allows whoever controls it to project power into the strait and easily launch airstrikes into mainland Yemen, convulsed by a yearslong bloody war. Jon Gambrell, Star Tribune, 26 May 2021 He was widely known there as a studious, generally strait-laced young man. New York Times, 5 Mar. 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near strait

strain theory



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Last Updated

26 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Strait.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 2021.

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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.

More from Merriam-Webster on strait

Nglish: Translation of strait for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of strait for Arabic Speakers


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