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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
Historical Examples
  • The evening “strafe” had just ended, and the German guns would reopen fire on the trenches about five in the morning.

    The Revellers Louis Tracy
  • Murmuring something that sounded dangerously like "strafe rules!"

  • A short stay in the "enemy's area" during a strafe might be recommended for politicians and arranged by their constituents.

  • I havent seen such a bonzer target to strafe since we was in Gllipoli.

    Grapes of wrath Boyd Cable
  • A visitor held the bones straight while I was doing this and strafe did not struggle a particle.

  • My parting remark to him was: "Take care they don't 'strafe' you."

    With the Zionists in Gallipoli John Henry Patterson
  • "Red Flight, strafe ground planes," ordered the voice of the Squadron Leader.

    A Yankee Flier with the R.A.F. Rutherford G. Montgomery
  • "They strafe this part fairly often," said the major unconcernedly.

    Servants of the Guns Jeffery E. Jeffery
  • Immediately, a couple of airjeeps pounced in, to strafe the fleeing enemy.

    Uller Uprising Henry Beam Piper, John D. Clark and John F. Carr
  • Two of my men, two corporals, are getting Divisional cards of merit for their work and pluck in the strafe the other day.

    Letters from France Isaac Alexander Mack
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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