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

There are stray and loose cats and dogs running around all over Hagerman. Fox News, "Skunks invade small New Mexico town," 12 Mar. 2018 Mears said that most strays picked up by BARC are adoptable, and euthanasia occurs only when the animal is deemed too dangerous or sick, which is the case for about 15 percent of the animals. Y.c. Orozco, Houston Chronicle, "BARC captures dogs after Clear Lake area attacks," 11 Jan. 2018 Clouds pop up at times and a brief stray shower can’t be ruled out in the afternoon (best chance east of town). David Streit, Washington Post, "D.C.-area forecast: Seasonably warm today with a stray shower possible; more humid this weekend," 12 July 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Iggy Azalea decided to try something new, straying from her signature blonde for a shocking shade of pink. Devon Abelman, Allure, "28 Pretty Pink Hair-Color Ideas to Inspire Your Next Dye Job," 10 Oct. 2018 But as Bill Clinton can attest, special prosecutors can end up straying far beyond their original mandate. Howard Kurtz, Fox News, "Giuliani roils the waters in saying Trump reimbursed Stormy Daniels payment," 4 May 2018 The Spaniard's low piercing cross was perfectly weighted for an on-rushing Raheem Sterling to tap home, but the Citizens top scorer had just strayed beyond Toon defender Jamaal Lascelles. SI.com, "Manchester City 3-1 Newcastle: Aguero Hat-Trick Downs Thoroughly Outclassed Magpies," 20 Jan. 2018 For now, officials are reluctant to stray from their broader effort to pare down their holdings. Nick Timiraos, WSJ, "Fed Debate Heats Up Over the Size and Composition of Its Bond Holdings," 11 Jan. 2019 Rather than promote brand loyalty, the ploy can actually make customers stray. Nadra Nittle, Vox, "Why Yeezys, a brand based on exclusivity, are suddenly so easy to buy," 21 Sep. 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Footage shows a Target employee place a cone near the ball … but walks away to attend to a stray cart. Sarah Schreiber, Good Housekeeping, "Watch a Rogue 2-Ton Target Ball Unleash Utter Chaos in a Parking Lot," 6 Feb. 2017 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

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

6 Feb 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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