Quiz: Remember the definition of mal de mer?


[streyt] /streɪt/
Often, straits. (used with a singular verb) a narrow passage of water connecting two large bodies of water.
Often, straits. a position of difficulty, distress, or need:
Ill and penniless, he was in sad straits indeed.
Archaic. a narrow passage or area.
an isthmus.
adjective, Archaic.
Strait is the gate.
affording little space; confined in area.
strict, as in requirements or principles.
1150-1200; Middle English streit < Old French estreit < Latin strictus past participle of stringere to bind; see strain1
Related forms
straitly, adverb
straitness, noun
Can be confused
straight, strait.
2. exigency, pinch, dilemma, predicament, plight. See emergency.
2. ease. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for straits
  • Some college leaders are returning raises and bonuses in recognition of students' tough financial straits.
  • Without claiming that adjuncts are in anywhere near as dire straits as field workers or miners, the examples are useful.
  • It is pressed by the straits into a visibly convex form.
  • Herndon was in desperate financial straits and could not afford to have this lucrative transaction fall through.
  • Similarly, the individual characters' financial straits fueled believable plot developments.
  • As if this were not bad enough, the economy remains in dire straits.
  • Imagine the devastation to world trade if one or more giant tankers were captured and used to block the straits.
  • As a result, he will leave behind him a country in dire straits.
  • Even newspapers, in dire straits in much of the rich world, are embracing design thinking.
  • By that point, the economy would be in dire straits and the financial system in chaos.
British Dictionary definitions for straits


(often pl)
  1. a narrow channel of the sea linking two larger areas of sea
  2. (capital as part of a name): the Strait of Gibraltar
(often pl) a position of acute difficulty (often in the phrase in dire or desperate straits)
(archaic) a narrow place or passage
adjective (archaic)
(of spaces, etc) affording little room
(of circumstances, etc) limiting or difficult
severe, strict, or scrupulous
Derived Forms
straitly, adverb
straitness, noun
Word Origin
C13: from Old French estreit narrow, from Latin strictus constricted, from stringere to bind tightly
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for straits



mid-14c., "narrow, confined space or place," specifically of bodies of water from late 14c., noun use of adjective strait "narrow, strict" (late 13c.), from Old French estreit (French étroit) "tight, close, narrow" (also used as a noun), from Latin strictus, past participle of stringere "bind or draw tight" (see strain (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)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
straits in Medicine

strait (strāt)
A narrow passage, such as the upper or lower opening of the pelvic canal.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source
straits in Science
A narrow waterway joining two larger bodies of water. The Strait of Gibraltar, for example, connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for strait

Many English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for straits

Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with straits

Nearby words for straits