\ ˈstrā How to pronounce stray (audio) \

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


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



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

Other Words from stray


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
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The Coopers also saw projects that were designed specifically to address future living needs that stray from traditional design principles and that also offer a new point of view. Jennifer Castenson, Forbes, 14 Mar. 2022 Reynolds served two stints as an assistant prosecutor beginning in 1980, with a 1994-2011 hiatus in civil practice with Barris, Sott, Denn & Driker, PLLC, specializing in claims of dairy herds stricken by power line stray voltage. Joe Swickard, Detroit Free Press, 5 Mar. 2022 Perseverance is troubleshooting its own issues right now in the form of some pesky stray pebbles that have prevented the rover from storing its seventh sample, collected initially on December 29. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 20 Jan. 2022 Phoenix first arrived at the rescue as a stray in November 2020, malnourished, covered in fleas, and missing fur. Kelli Bender,, 4 Apr. 2022 Lucky was a stray and had been taken in by neighbors of ours in Conroe. Annette Mcgivney, Outside Online, 4 Apr. 2022 Our new smart vacuums aren’t just great at picking up stubborn dirt and grime—they’re also great at picking up stray bits of union-organizing chatter. Lillian Stone, The New Yorker, 31 Mar. 2022 Fergus' pet parent had no idea where the animal went until this month when a Cats Protection volunteer found the cat living as a stray near a recycling center in Aberdeen, 80 miles from Forres. Kelli Bender,, 28 Jan. 2022 After disappearing over a decade ago, Zoey turned up in Stockton, California, as a stray. Aaron Parsley,, 21 Feb. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Wandering through those watercolor memories, Mimi records sounds, takes photos, and grabs stray words from her thoughts to collect in a journal that the player puts together at the end of each in-game day. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, 29 Apr. 2022 But the boundaries are far-flung and poorly patrolled—easy for an individual to stray outside of, if the conditions are right. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 28 Apr. 2022 The most straightforward last roughly two hours and usually only stray a quarter-mile from their starting point, which might be somewhere in the city or on its outskirts. Washington Post, 21 Apr. 2022 And because of the close proximity of the airspace, there is also concern that air defense be available if Russian aircraft inadvertently stray into NATO airspace. Barbara Starr, CNN, 9 Mar. 2022 The track had been pitched to Charli rather than written with her in the room, something many artists of her ilk stray away from. Marcus Jones,, 28 Jan. 2022 As time rolled slowly by, Andrillon found his attention would stray from the road ahead. Karen Hopkin, Scientific American, 15 Sep. 2021 This way, the prose is easy to read and doesn’t cause anyone’s attention to stray. Expert Panel®, Forbes, 13 Sep. 2021 Doja’s version doesn’t stray far from the original. Natalie Maher, Harper's BAZAAR, 14 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Healy also advises tweezing one hair at a time for precision and using a dermaplaning tool to shave stray fine hairs that are hard to grip. Jennifer Hussein, Allure, 11 May 2022 And more importantly, how many married people who chose this movie for date night came home and surreptitiously moved any stray snow globes down to the basement? Darren Franich,, 10 May 2022 Uncanny forms—semi-organic shapes, with stray kinks and curves hammered flat—assumed an unlikely congruity. Raffi Khatchadourian, The New Yorker, 9 May 2022 Children should avoid any stray or wild animal, regardless of its behavior. William Thornton |, al, 6 May 2022 If no one claims Baby Girl during her stray hold at WHS, she will be put for adoption at the shelter. Abigail Adams,, 5 May 2022 Then use a dime-sized amount of the clay, rub it between your hands, then place on any stray hairs for extra hold and definition. Christian Gollayan, Men's Health, 3 May 2022 And the possibility of a stray missile or an accidental attack on a US visitor doesn't bear thinking about given the potential for escalation in the crisis. Stephen Collinson, CNN, 2 May 2022 One episode mocked students in Mississippi who mistook a stray banana peel for a hate crime. New York Times, 30 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of stray


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


14th century, in the meaning defined above


1589, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for stray


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


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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Time Traveler for stray

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

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Dictionary Entries Near stray

straw yellow



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Statistics for stray

Last Updated

29 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Stray.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for stray


\ ˈstrā How to pronounce stray (audio) \

Kids Definition of stray

 (Entry 1 of 3)

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


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



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

More from Merriam-Webster on stray

Nglish: Translation of stray for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of stray for Arabic Speakers


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