Word Origin & History
mid-14c., "narrow, confined space or place," specifically of bodies of water from late 14c., noun use of adj. strait "narrow, strict" (late 13c.), from O.Fr. estreit (Fr. étroit) "tight, close, narrow" (also used as a noun), from L. strictus, pp. of stringere "bind or draw tight" (see
(v.)). Sense of "difficulty, plight" (usually straits) first recorded 1540s. Strait and narrow "conventional way of life" is recorded from mid-14c. (see straight
(adj.2)). Strait-laced is 1540s, of stays or bodices; figurative sense of "over-precise, prudish" is from 1550s. Strait-jacket is attested from 1814, earlier strait-waistcoat (1753).