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[streyf, strahf] /streɪf, strɑf/
verb (used with object), strafed, strafing.
to attack (ground troops or installations) by airplanes with machine-gun fire.
Slang. to reprimand viciously.
a strafing attack.
Origin of strafe
1910-15; < German strafen to punish
Related forms
strafer, noun
unstrafed, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for strafe
  • They bombed the barracks and they would bomb and then they would come in and strafe.
  • Well, the gunnery range has your bomb circles and also has all the strafe targets you strafe and what they call skip bomb targets.
  • And another way was, of course, they sent their planes over early in the morning to strafe our supply companies.
  • The planes that missed leveled off and then tried to strafe the ship launches which were in the water.
  • The government is using aerial bombardment to strafe villages and terrorize civilians into flight.
British Dictionary definitions for strafe


/streɪf; strɑːf/
verb (transitive)
to machine-gun (troops, etc) from the air
(slang) to punish harshly
an act or instance of strafing
Derived Forms
strafer, noun
Word Origin
C20: from German strafen to punish
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
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Word Origin and History for strafe

1915, "punish, attack," picked up by British soldiers from German strafen "to punish" (from Proto-Germanic *stræf-), in slogan Gott strafe England "May God punish England," current in Germany c.1914-16 at the start of World War I. The word used for many kinds of attack at first; meaning "shoot up ground positions from low-flying aircraft" emerged as the main sense 1942. Related: Strafed; strafing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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