a single stalk or stem, especially of certain species of grain, chiefly wheat, rye, oats, and barley.
a mass of such stalks, especially after drying and threshing, used as fodder.
material, fibers, etc., made from such stalks, as used for making hats or baskets.
the negligible value of one such stalk; trifle; least bit: not to care a straw.
a tube, usually of paper or glass, for sucking up a beverage from a container: to sip lemonade through a straw.
anything of possible but dubious help in a desperate circumstance.
straw man ( def 2 ).
a straw hat.
of, pertaining to, containing, or made of straw: a straw hat.
of the color of straw; pale yellow.
of little value or consequence; worthless.
sham; fictitious.
catch / clutch / grasp at a straw / straws / any straw(s), to seize at any chance, no matter how slight, of saving oneself from calamity.
draw straws, to decide by lottery using straws or strawlike items of different lengths, usually with the short straw or straws determining the person chosen or the loser.

before 950; Middle English; Old English strēaw; cognate with German Stroh; akin to strew

strawless, adjective
strawlike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source Link To straw
World English Dictionary
straw1 (strɔː)
1.  a.  stalks of threshed grain, esp of wheat, rye, oats, or barley, used in plaiting hats, baskets, etc, or as fodder
 b.  (as modifier): a straw hat
2.  a single dry or ripened stalk, esp of a grass
3.  a long thin hollow paper or plastic tube or stem of a plant, used for sucking up liquids into the mouth
4.  (usually used with a negative) anything of little value or importance: I wouldn't give a straw for our chances
5.  a measure or remedy that one turns to in desperation (esp in the phrases clutchorgrasp at a straworstraws)
6.  a.  a pale yellow colour
 b.  (as adjective): straw hair
7.  straw in the wind a hint or indication
8.  the last straw a small incident, setback, etc that, coming after others, proves intolerable
9.  chiefly (US) having little value or substance
[Old English streaw; related to Old Norse strā, Old Frisian strē, Old High German strō; see strew]

straw2 (strɔː)
archaic another word for strew

Straw (strɔː)
Jack, full name John Whitaker Straw. born 1946, British Labour politician; Home Secretary (1997--2001); Foreign Secretary (2001--06); Lord Chancellor from 2007

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

O.E. streaw "stems or stalks of certain cereals," lit. "that which is scattered or strewn," related to streowian (see strew), from P.Gmc. *strawam "that which is scattered" (cf. O.N. stra, Dan. straa, Swed. strå, O.Fris. stre, O.Du., O.H.G. stro, Ger. Stroh "straw"),
from PIE *stere- "to spread" (see structure). The notion is of dried grain stalks strewn on a floor as carpeting or bedding. As a type of what is trifling or unimportant, attested from late 13c. Meaning "hollow tube through which a drink is sucked" is recorded from 1851. To draw straws as a means of deciding something is recorded from 1832. The last straw is from the proverb of the camel. Man of straw "imaginary opponent" is recorded from 1620s. Straw poll is from 1932; earlier straw vote (1866). Straw hat first attested mid-15c. To clutch (or grasp or catch) at straws (1748) is what a drowning man proverbially would do.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Bible Dictionary

Straw definition

Used in brick-making (Ex. 5:7-18). Used figuratively in Job 41:27; Isa. 11:7; 25:10; 65:25.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idioms beginning with straw, also see draw straws; grasp at straws; last straw; make bricks without straw; not worth a dime (straw).

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
Cite This Source
Example sentences
Can anyone tell me what causes tomatoes to go bad where they rest on the ground
  or straw.
What caught my eye more than anything else was these crazy mushrooms sprouting
  out of the straw bale garden.
Then surround each plant with a wire cylinder weighted down at the base with
  rocks or bricks, and fill in with straw or leaves.
The smartest hat for town wear is an opera, but a straw or felt which is proper
  in the country, is not out of place in town.
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature