Stories We Like: Novels For Language Lovers
Old English stret (Mercian, Kentish), stræt (West Saxon) "street, high road," an early West Germanic borrowing from Late Latin strata, used elliptically for via strata "paved road," from fem. past participle of Latin sternere "lay down, spread out, pave," from PIE *stre-to- "to stretch, extend," from root *stere- "to spread, extend, stretch out" (see structure (n.)). The Latin is also the source of Spanish estrada, Old French estrée, Italian strada.
"The normal term in OE for a paved way or Roman road, later extended to other roads, urban streets, and in SE dialects to a street of dwellings, a straggling village or hamlet" [Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names]. Originally of Roman roads (e.g. Watling Street, Icknield Street). "In the Middle Ages, a road or way was merely a direction in which people rode or went, the name street being reserved for the made road." [Weekley] Used since c.1400 to mean "the people in the street;" modern sense of "the realm of the people as the source of political support" dates from 1931. Man in the street "ordinary person, non-expert" is attested from 1831. Street people "the homeless" is from 1967; street smarts is from 1972; street-credibility is from 1979.
The street called "Straight" at Damascus (Acts 9:11) is "a long broad street, running from east to west, about a mile in length, and forming the principal thoroughfare in the city." In Oriental towns streets are usually narrow and irregular and filthy (Ps. 18:42; Isa. 10:6). "It is remarkable," says Porter, "that all the important cities of Palestine and Syria Samaria, Caesarea, Gerasa, Bozrah, Damascus, Palmyra, had their 'straight streets' running through the centre of the city, and lined with stately rows of columns. The most perfect now remaining are those of Palmyra and Gerasa, where long ranges of the columns still stand.", Through Samaria, etc.