stray

noun
\ 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

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 decades, Rwandans have been leery of dogs, even viewing them as dangerous, partly because of their role as aggressive security animals and reputation as rabid, unpredictable strays. Yana Paskova, National Geographic, "Learning to Love Dogs in Kigali," 29 June 2018 Warm the wax in your fingertips, and very gently graze it over any strays, tucking them into place. Adam Hurly, GQ, "The Best Hair Products for Men 2018," 14 June 2018 Project Freedom Ride now partners with multiple rescue shelters in Texas which save strays, unwanted dogs and dogs from kill shelters. Caitlin O'kane, CBS News, "6-year-old boy helps save more than 1,000 dogs from kill shelters," 30 May 2018 All the while, they were kept company by a stray, nearly feral, dog, who wandered over and ate anything the workmen left behind from their lunch. Sheryl Julian, BostonGlobe.com, "From ruin to castle in rural Spain (and you can eat like royalty, too)," 23 May 2018 To make matters even more complicated, sometimes those in relationships worth preserving stray, too. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "How Each Zodiac Sign Is Most Likely to Cheat in a Relationship," 30 Apr. 2018 However, there is enough low-level spin in the atmosphere to create a slight chance at a stray, weak tornado or waterspout forming near the bay. Greg Porter, Washington Post, "PM Update: Heavy rain and gusty winds late tonight. Cool and cloudy with a few showers Monday.," 15 Apr. 2018 Several cattle were found deceased as workers searched a property in Central Texas looking for strays, a Human Society official said. Mitch Mitchell, star-telegram, "Humane Society races to shelter 300 malnourished Longhorn cattle before it gets cold," 9 Feb. 2018 Tweeze—don't re-wax—any strays, and ice skin immediately afterward to avoid inflammation. Cristina Mueller, Redbook, "Q& Triple A: I have little hairs around my chin and upper lip. Help!," 10 Jan. 2011

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

From the opening remarks to the riotous auction, the benefit never strayed from its purpose. Ian Malone, Vogue, "Daniel Bouloud Hosts a Decadent Dinner in Support of Citymeals on Wheels," 12 Mar. 2019 Aimee Spinks Outlander season 4 has come and gone (too soon!), leaving fans with a lot of questions after the season finale aired—like why the storyline strayed so far from the plot of the book in some key moments. Outlander Fan, Marie Claire, "How Outlander Season 4 Is Different From Outlander, Book 4, 'Drums Of Autumn'," 29 Jan. 2019 With a near-unanimous verdict, one technique emerged as the winner, though one pro strayed from the pack (and offered a solid argument to support his answer, of course). Kaleigh Fasanella, Allure, "Should You Apply Concealer or Foundation First? Here’s What Makeup Artists Say," 30 Aug. 2018 Free will is an illusion, because humans never stray far from their programming. Sandra Upson, WIRED, "Westworld Recap, Season 2 Episode 10: What Is Real?," 25 June 2018 Recently, a letter was published by 19 individuals urging the government to break up ICE, saying the group has strayed far from its original mission. Will Bunch, Philly.com, "Why they risked everything to Occupy ICE | Will Bunch," 5 July 2018 As Intel’s focus has strayed into other markets, its core business came under attack. Tom Warren, The Verge, "Intel now faces a fight for its future," 22 June 2018 The back and forth over the Senate trade measures came as Washington was grappling with just how far Mr. Trump had strayed from the traditional Republican embrace of free trade. New York Times, "As Ties With Allies Fray Over Trade, Congressional Republicans Back Trump," 11 June 2018 One senior White House official rejected such claims while another senior administration official noted that Pence rarely strays from the President's views on foreign policy -- even in private discussions. Kevin Liptak, CNN, "Bolton sidelined as Trump readies for North Korea," 4 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

There’s also a stray hand placed on top of the papers, which is both ominous and confusing all at the same time. Megan Stein, Country Living, "NCIS: LA's Daniela Ruah Dropped a Huge Clue About the #Densi Wedding and It’s Not Good," 10 Feb. 2019 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

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

17 Apr 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 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

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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