stray

noun
\ˈstrā \

Definition of stray 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1a : a domestic animal that is wandering at large or is lost

b : a person or thing that strays

2 [ Middle English, from straien to stray ] archaic : the act of going astray

stray

verb
strayed; straying; strays

Definition of stray (Entry 2 of 3)

intransitive verb

: wander: such as

a : to wander from company, restraint, or proper limits

b : to roam about without fixed direction or purpose

c : to move in a winding course : meander

d : to move without conscious or intentional effort eyes straying absently around the room

e : to become distracted from an argument or train of thought strayed from the point

f : to wander accidentally from a fixed or chosen route

g : err, sin

stray

adjective

Definition of stray (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : having strayed or escaped from a proper or intended place a stray dog

2 : occurring at random or sporadically stray thoughts

3 : not serving any useful purpose : unwanted stray light

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from stray

Verb

strayer noun

Examples of stray in a Sentence

Noun

Both of her cats were strays that she found wandering in the neighborhood.

Verb

The airplane strayed off course. our straying son swears he's returned to the straight and narrow

Adjective

stray sightings of UFO's, none of which have been rigorously analyzed by scientists
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

If you are bitten or scratched by a stray or wild animal, clean the bite or scratch wound immediately with soap and water and seek immediate medical attention. Caroline Blackmon, Detroit Free Press, "2 rabid bats found in Washtenaw County this year," 1 June 2018 Welitoff’s videos retrieve and examine the unseen and the stray. Cate Mcquaid, BostonGlobe.com, "Suara Welitoff’s videos help us see things afresh," 30 May 2018 The majority of these strays are homeless, and up until recently people were warned against even petting them due to fear of radioactivity. Saryn Chorney, PEOPLE.com, "13 Homeless, Radiation-Safe Puppies Born in Chernobyl Rescued and Now Available for Adoption in U.S.," 30 May 2018 The majority of these strays are homeless, and up until recently people were warned against even petting them due to fear of radioactivity. Saryn Chorney, ajc, "13 homeless, radiation-safe puppies born in Chernobyl rescued and now available for adoption in U.S.," 30 May 2018 Khairabad, like just about any other Indian village, has a lot of strays. New York Times, "Killer Dogs Take 14 Lives. Did Closing Slaughterhouses Play a Role?," 22 May 2018 The recent deaths included three children killed by a pack of strays on May 1, Kulkarni said. Washington Post, "Feral dog packs kill 6 Indian children, terrifying villagers," 7 May 2018 The revenue generated by licenses could help fund Philly’s Animal Care and Control Team, which in 2017 took 6,377 stray or abandoned dogs into its care. Ronnie Polaneczky, Philly.com, "Dog owners owe the city $1.3 million. Does that include you? | Ronnie Polaneczky," 5 Apr. 2018 Four years ago, dog protection became a major issue during the Winter Olympics, with the plight of the strays of Sochi touching the hearts of visitors. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Winter Olympics shines spotlight on dog meat trade in South Korea," 7 Feb. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Pennywise and Child from It Sometimes the best couples costumes are the ones that stray furthest away from the traditional ones that are meant for, well, actual couples. Vogue, "21 Ridiculously Easy Couples Costume Ideas for Halloween," 12 Oct. 2018 In previous cases, including cases involving race discrimination, stray remarks that were discriminatory by government officials were not enough to condemn government actions as being discriminatory or as violations of the equal protection clause. Christopher Shea, Vox, "Why Jeff Sessions thinks Christians are under siege in America," 1 Aug. 2018 The Israeli military shot down a Syrian attack jet that strayed into Israeli airspace. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Israel Shoots Down Syrian Attack Jet," 24 July 2018 And when Moke does stray out of his comfort zone, Mom is quick to pick him up and bring him close once again. Kelli Bender, PEOPLE.com, "WATCH: 10-Week-Old Baby Gorilla Takes His First Steps, Makes Uncertainty Look Adorable," 10 July 2018 Some dishes that stray from the classics, such as a salmon entrée or brothy calabrese sausage pasta, are less successful. Kate Washington, sacbee, "It's not flashy or splashy, but Roseville's Ciao excels at cooking classic Italian," 8 June 2018 Also keep in mind, these are small businesses with hours that can quickly stray from website postings if owners need to dash out to salvage items. Jennifer Rude Klett, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "There's more than just shiplap to salvage around the Midwest. Here's where to find some treasures," 1 June 2018 In theory, the powerful gravity of this black hole can disrupt binary star systems that stray too close, sending one star rocketing away at about 1000 kilometers per second, fast enough to escape the galaxy’s own gravitational pull. Joshua Sokol, Science | AAAS, "One of the Milky Way’s fastest stars is an invader from another galaxy," 8 May 2018 People with weakened immune systems often have shingles that stray from the typical band-like pattern. Health.com, "What Is Shingles?," 1 May 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

At least 13 people were wounded by the stray bullets, Majroh said. Fox News, "29 killed in Afghanistan as anti-Taliban leader mourned," 9 Sep. 2018 Police in Mexico are investigating the murder of an American tourist hit by a stray bullet in Mexico City. CBS News, "American woman killed in Mexico after U.S. issues travel warnings," 11 July 2018 Though concealed by the sun, the moon is still flecked with a few stray particles of light filtered through Earth’s atmosphere. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "The Century’s Longest Lunar Eclipse Will Shroud the Moon This Month," 2 July 2018 But just as those opportunities appeared to grow South Korea's confidence, it was shattered when a stray arm from Jang Hyun-soo resulted in Vela breaking the deadlock from the spot after 25 minutes. SI.com, "South Korea 1-2 Mexico: El Tri Put One Foot in Last 16 Despite Late Screamer From Son," 23 June 2018 While some activists fight specific regulations at a municipal level, there are no federal laws that protect the nearly 2 million stray dogs in Russia, according to Hoger. Madeline Farber, Fox News, "World Cup 2018 host cities in Russia allegedly killing off stray dogs ahead of tournament," 13 June 2018 The Wisconsin native would see stray dogs all the time en route to her job in downtown Houston. Tracy Maness, Houston Chronicle, "Lola’s Lucky Day finds Houston dogs homes in Wisconsin," 18 June 2018 The driver, 42-year-old Tobias Thomas, was hit in the back of the head by a stray bullet in the 800 block of Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard Thursday night. Chelsea Prince, ajc, "Video shows shooter open fire, take off after wounded driver crashes into storefront," 12 June 2018 Harriott was struck in the back by a stray bullet, her spine shattered. Laura Crimaldi, BostonGlobe.com, "She was paralyzed by gunfire as a child in Dorchester. Now she’s graduating from high school," 5 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'stray.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of stray

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Adjective

1589, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for stray

Noun

Middle English, from Anglo-French estraié, past participle of estraier

Verb

Middle English straien, from Anglo-French estraier, from Vulgar Latin *extravagare, from Latin extra- outside + vagari to wander — more at extra-

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about stray

Statistics for stray

Last Updated

11 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for stray

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for stray

stray

noun

English Language Learners Definition of stray

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: an animal (such as a cat or dog) that is lost or has no home

: a person or thing that is separated from a group

stray

verb

English Language Learners Definition of stray (Entry 2 of 3)

: to go in a direction that is away from a group or from the place where you should be

stray

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of stray (Entry 3 of 3)

of an animal : lost or having no home

: separated from another or others of the same kind

: not in or going in the proper or intended place

stray

noun
\ˈstrā \

Kids Definition of stray

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: a domestic animal (as a cat or dog) that is lost or has no home

stray

verb
strayed; straying

Kids Definition of stray (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : to wander from a group or from the proper place : roam The gate was left open and the cow strayed.

2 : to go off from a direct or chosen route or the right course We strayed from the path.

3 : to become distracted from a topic or train of thought

stray

adjective

Kids Definition of stray (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : lost or having no home a stray dog

2 : not in the proper or intended place I found a few stray socks.

3 : occurring here and there : random a few stray hairs

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on stray

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with stray

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for stray

Spanish Central: Translation of stray

Nglish: Translation of stray for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of stray for Arabic Speakers

Comments on stray

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to make faulty or ineffective

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!