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

Laura’s big thing, for example, is collecting stray cats and dogs. Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor, "The cast outshines the material in road trip movie ‘Boundaries’," 22 June 2018 Last year, the Bradshaw shelter took in 647 stray cats and dogs during the first two weeks of July, 124 more than during the same period in June, said spokeswoman Janna Haynes. Cynthia Hubert, sacbee, "Free pet microchips available in Sacramento County before Fourth of July," 19 June 2018 Dean loved animals, saving 3 stray cats and his dog Copper that all became his 4-legged family. Hartford Courant, courant.com, "Dean Bordonaro," 2 June 2018 Finding his way back home On Oct. 25, someone brought a stray cat to Elmbrook Humane Society. Karen Pilarski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "After two months, a local family finds their 20-year-old cat at the Elmbrook Humane Society," 2 Jan. 2018 Cecile raised two children, five grandchildren, and more than a few welcome strays. Hartford Courant, courant.com, "Cecile M. Bienvenue," 20 June 2018 Extracting iron ore wasn’t like picking up a stray piece of gold or silver. Jonathan Schifman, Popular Mechanics, "The Entire History of Steel," 9 July 2018 The rural community of Covert, Mich. says goodbye to 12 year-old She’Nyah O’Flynn, who was killed by a stray bullet while visiting family in Chicago on June 14, 2018. Peter Nickeas, chicagotribune.com, "A small Michigan town mourns a 12-year-old girl slain in Chicago: 'She’s here with us'," 3 July 2018 An American woman celebrating her first wedding anniversary was shot and killed in a wealthy Mexico City neighborhood by a stray bullet fired by a gunman on a motorcycle, officials said. Robert Gearty, Fox News, "Stray shot kills California woman in Mexico City for wedding anniversary," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Now the city has set up cameras to catch trucks that stray from designated truck routes, and will hand out fines of up to $250. Ian Duncan, baltimoresun.com, "Baltimore tries cameras and tickets to stop trucks driving down residential streets," 7 May 2018 Speaking of straying off the path, Creator Edge Media may have come just at the right time. Noelle Devoe, Seventeen, "Jace Norman Talks the Logan Paul Controversy: It Can't "Be About How Many Views You’re Getting"," 13 Jan. 2018 But getting distracted at the denouement, simply because the finish line is in sight and the excitement overwhelms you to the point of straying, must be avoided at all cost. Peter Dunn, Indianapolis Star, "Pete the Planner: You saved for a big expense. Don't let greed or overthinking derail you.," 3 Jan. 2018 Wei-Yin Chen strayed from the script of his 2018 season, but the Miami Marlins could not. Matthew Defranks, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Wei-Yin Chen sharp, but Marlins lose second straight to Diamondbacks," 28 June 2018 Candidates strayed from engaging in much political rhetoric until the 2018 race, when unsuccessful candidate Tim Burns entered the race as an unabashed progressive Democrat. Molly Beck, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Susan Happ, Maria Lazar add their names to growing field of prospective Supreme Court candidates," 14 June 2018 Another Fourth of July, another time of amputations, fires and stray bullets. Katie Bernard And Matt Campbell, kansascity, "Amputations, fires and celebratory gunfire mar the Fourth of July holiday," 5 July 2018 Kapler hasn’t strayed from thinking outside the box. Scott Lauber, Philly.com, "Phillies' Gabe Kapler has gone from punching bag to manager of the year candidate," 5 July 2018 Fan garb rarely strays far from standard-issue T-shirts and caps, emblazoned with team logos. Janelle Nanos, BostonGlobe.com, "The crowd goes wild: After years of traditional fan gear, MLB is letting its freak flag fly," 29 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

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 The stray bullet, from a shooting one block away, hit Ulises Triano. Ryan Young, CNN, "Chicago officials laud 15th consecutive month of declining gun violence," 2 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

Phrases Related to stray

waifs and strays

Statistics for stray

Last Updated

2 Oct 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

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

one that holds something together

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
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!