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 The girl, dressed in a bumblebee costume, was walking with her father when was shot by an apparent stray bullet in the Little Village neighborhood. Grace Hauck, USA TODAY, "Chicago teen charged in suspected gang shooting that injured girl who was trick-or-treating," 2 Nov. 2019 Two days after Aamir’s death, a 16-year-old girl in Jamaica was struck in the arm by a stray bullet when a fight erupted during dismissal at New Dawn Charter High School II. Corina Knoll, New York Times, "At 14, He Stayed Away From Trouble. But a Bullet Flew 100 Yards.," 31 Oct. 2019 Authorities say the victim was an innocent bystander who caught a stray bullet in the back after a drug deal went awry. Josh Kovner, courant.com, "New Britain’s Mark Schand awarded $27M by federal jury in wrongful imprisonment lawsuit," 23 Sep. 2019 One journalist hit by a stray bullet while covering the protest also died at the hospital, confirmed his employer, local TV station Channels Television, on Monday evening. Bukola Adebayo, CNN, "Protests turn deadly as the Islamic Movement of Nigeria clash with police," 22 July 2019 In the mid-19th century, New York City adopted a policy to drown stray dogs that were not claimed. Alicia Parlapiano, New York Times, "Why Euthanasia Rates at Animal Shelters Have Plummeted," 3 Sep. 2019 In Chile, stray dogs were the top concern among city dwellers surveyed this year, topping deteriorating sidewalks and theft. Washington Post, "The dog is one of the world’s most destructive mammals. Brazil proves it.," 20 Aug. 2019 In Chile, stray dogs were the top concern among city dwellers surveyed this year, topping deteriorating sidewalks and theft. Anchorage Daily News, "The dog is one of the world’s most destructive mammals. Brazil proves it.," 21 Aug. 2019 Last year, animal control took in more than 16,000 animals, which included stray animals and pets surrendered to the agency by owners, according to city data. Javonte Anderson, chicagotribune.com, "Chicago animal rescue groups partner to ‘save as many’ animals as possible this weekend," 9 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The supermodel switched up her signature brunette strands at London Fashion Week While Kendall Jenner‘s famous family has been known to dabble with different hair colors, the supermodel has never strayed from her signature brunette hue — until now! Kaitlyn Frey, PEOPLE.com, "Kendall Jenner Debuts Blonde Hair for the First Time on Burberry Runway," 16 Sep. 2019 Skaggs tells Billboard the video was intended to address criticism that Skaggs had strayed too far from his traditional roots with his crossover style. Dave Brooks, Billboard, "Ricky Skaggs on Bill Monroe's Legacy, 'Big Family: The Story of Bluegrass Music' Doc Airing Tonight on PBS," 30 Aug. 2019 Things would have been downright tame if HBO hadn’t strayed from last year’s game plan to bleep out profanity while documenting the Browns. Jon Becker, The Mercury News, "Was Raiders’ first ‘Hard Knocks’ episode really that bad?," 7 Aug. 2019 That’s not to say Clairo strayed too far from the highly personal, diaristic and borderline stream-of-consciousness lyrics that first endeared her to her ever-growing fanbase. Dan Hyman, chicagotribune.com, "Clairo gets to show off her newfound sonic lack of insecurity at Pitchfork Fest," 17 July 2019 Captain Wendie Renard missed the goal entirely with her first attempt against Nigeria, but was given a second chance when replays showed the goalkeeper had strayed a few inches off her line. Joshua Robinson, WSJ, "Video Assistant Referee Technology Grinds the Women’s World Cup to a Halt," 25 June 2019 Archaeology turns to animals Archaeology has strayed into the animal kingdom before, but until this study, it was focused mostly on primates such as chimpanzees. National Geographic, "Sea otters use tools, too. Now scientists look at their 'archaeology'," 29 Mar. 2019 Several factors played into the Louisville church's decision to leave, Childs said, but congregants largely felt the denomination had strayed from the teachings of the Bible and the United Methodist Book of Discipline. Sarah Fowler, USA TODAY, "Mississippi church votes to leave United Methodists; it's the third one in less than 2 years," 28 Mar. 2018 After fielding the ball, the shortstop saw that Cabrera had strayed too far off second. Dennis Lin, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Margot, Coleman help Padres past Mets," 27 July 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective This presents a challenge for the humane society to find room for any stray dogs brought in by animal control or unwanted dogs relinquished by their owner. S. Wayne Carter Jr., baltimoresun.com, "With kennels nearing capacity, Harford County humane society is waiving adoption fees for dogs," 23 July 2019 That prompted interest in the stray dogs — and their descendants left behind. Morgan Hines, USA TODAY, "Puppies and nuclear reactors: HBO series draws attention to stray dogs of Chernobyl," 18 June 2019 This season’s lineup features a typically AGT assortment of child prodigies, musicians, choirs, and dance acts, along with a stray stand-up comedian. Tyler Aquilina, EW.com, "Everything you need to know about the America's Got Talent season 14 finalists," 12 Sep. 2019 Local health officials did not say whether the fox is suspected to be rabid but cautioned residents from feeding or approaching wild or stray animals, the Ledge Light Health District announced Monday afternoon. Zach Murdock, courant.com, "Fox attacks 2 people in East Lyme, 1 person hospitalized," 9 Sep. 2019 Shardae and Zha'lea are sisters of 8-year-old Jurnee Thompson who was killed by a stray bullet last Friday night. Josiah Bates, Time, "'This Crisis Has Gone Undiscussed and Unaddressed For Years.' St. Louis Grapples With Wave of Gun Violence That Killed 13 Children This Summer," 23 Aug. 2019 While stray food and grime can create desirable destinations for unwanted guests, sometimes the occasional roach can't be avoided, due to the structure of your home or hidden cracks or openings that inevitably welcome pests inside. Natalie Schumann, Country Living, "How To Get Rid of Roaches Before They Become a Major Problem," 18 July 2019 Better off than America’s ailing press freedom, which came into April like a wounded duck, struggling for altitude amid all the stray potshots, and ended the month flat on its back, bill-deep in Washington swampwater and desperately gasping for air. Will Bunch, Philly.com, "Michelle Wolf's truth bombs aren't the only thing America's elite journalists don't get | Will Bunch," 30 Apr. 2018 According to Crossfire, a growing number of people are hit, often killed, each year by stray bullets — some fired by criminals, some by police. Washington Post, "Killings by police divide Brazilian city weary of crime," 22 Aug. 2019

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

13 Nov 2019

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
How to pronounce stray (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for stray

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with stray

Spanish Central: Translation of stray

Nglish: Translation of stray for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of stray for Arabic Speakers

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