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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

For the second time in as many weeks and the third time in two years, a Milwaukee fire station has been struck by stray gunfire. Ahmed Elbenni, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee Fire Department station struck by errant gunfire twice in two weeks," 10 July 2018 He was personally affected by gun violence in the neighborhood when his foster son, Jarvis Franklin, was killed by stray gunfire in 1998. Lauren Warnecke, chicagotribune.com, "Second ‘Concert for Peace’ brings Yo-Yo Ma back ‘home' to the South Side," 11 June 2018 Pinky Louise Ruffin was killed by stray gunfire last weekend. Tim Prudente, baltimoresun.com, "Violent April breaks brief peace in Baltimore, with 29 killings in past three weeks," 23 Apr. 2018 He was struck by stray gunfire, which left him paralyzed from the waist down. Kyle Stackpole, Howard County Times, "Oakland Mills baseball to honor Larry Aaron in season opener," 20 Mar. 2018 The 5-year-old girl, who was walking with her mother at the time, was injured in the leg by stray gunfire, according to police reports. Justin Madden, cleveland.com, "U.S. Marshals arrest two juveniles accused in gang retaliation shooting," 15 Mar. 2018 In the 93rd minute, Kim Younggwon emerged from chaos in the German defense to slam home a stray ball and trigger a roller-coaster of emotion among Germany’s supporters. Joshua Robinson, WSJ, "World Cup Curse Hits Defending Champion Germany," 27 June 2018 The courts are surrounded with netting to keep stray balls from landing in the ocean. Dan Fellner, USA TODAY, "Pickleball at sea? These cruise ships court fans with facilities," 1 Apr. 2018 Picking up a stray ball in the Bradford City half following kick off, the England international waltzed towards the edge of the penalty area, before rifling a deflected effort past Matt Clarke in the Bantams goal. SI.com, "7 World Soccer Records That Will Be Near Impossible to Break," 22 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Suga's Black-Cherry Hair Suga has officially strayed from matching his hair color to BTS's newest album cover. Instead of dyeing his hair pastel blue, lavender, petal pink, or even peach, the rapper went with a deep maroon shade. Devon Abelman, Allure, "BTS Shows Off Amazing Hairstyles and Dye Jobs in "Idol" Music Video," 24 Aug. 2018 Among those issues was an unsuccessful movement by some delegates to abolish or amend a party rule that allows committees to censure officials who stray from the party platform. Jasper Scherer, San Antonio Express-News, "Straus’ presence felt at convention despite his absence," 16 June 2018 With Blair-Taylor threatening in the seventh, junior second baseman Maddy Cruthird snared an infield fly and then beat a runner who’d strayed too far off second to the bag for a game-ending double play. Mark Stewart, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "WIAA softball: Defense saves the day for Oakfield," 7 June 2018 Rowe’s Facebook postings have certainly strayed into controversial territory. Travis Andersen, BostonGlobe.com, "Commissioner says Boston firefighter fired over social media posts," 15 May 2018 For her last few releases, Kylie Jenner has strayed away from the crazy bold colors Kylie Cosmetics is known for and has been mostly been adding to her range of nudes. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "6 Girls Tried Kylie Jenner's New Purple Lip Kit and This is What Happened," 7 Sep. 2016 While Queen Rania's luxe tastes mirror that of the British royals, her eye for affordable fashion doesn't stray far from either Kate or Meghan's, either. Marina Liao, Marie Claire, "Queen Rania of Jordan Wore Zara Chiffon Culottes to the Arab Social Media Awards," 11 Dec. 2018 In a lot of ways, RDR2 doesn’t actually stray too far from the formula laid down by developer Rockstar with games like Grand Theft Auto V and the original Red Dead Redemption. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "Red Dead Redemption 2 is the most convincing open-world game ever made," 25 Oct. 2018 Many evacuees head to nearby restaurants or hotels for a quick and cheap cocktail while others don't stray far. Jeffrey Lee Puckett, The Courier-Journal, "Don't leave home without this guide to Forecastle Festival 2018," 3 July 2018

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.

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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-

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Statistics for stray

Last Updated

9 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for stray

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

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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

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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

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