Definition of strait in English:



  • 1A narrow passage of water connecting two seas or two other large areas of water.

    in place names ‘the Straits of Gibraltar’
    • ‘The Persians were taken in and sent their navy into the narrow strait between Athens and the island of Salamis.’
    • ‘In purely commercial terms, passage through the strait would cut time off sailings from the west coast of North Korea.’
    • ‘Armed with a crayfishing spear, they allegedly demanded and took the catch from a group of professional fishermen who worked out of Cooktown, outside the strait.’
    • ‘The East River, in fact a tidal strait, is littered with smaller islands like Roosevelt, Randall's, Rikers, and Ward.’
    • ‘They glided over the narrow strait of turbulent ocean water that made the island look like it had been cut in half with a steak knife.’
    • ‘But it also added that that based on the ideas of ‘equality and mutual benefits,’ airline companies on both sides of the strait should work together to run the services.’
    • ‘The jamming caused considerable confusion and slowed the British reaction, and as a result the German warships had passed through the strait of Dover before the first attacks were launched against them.’
    • ‘The rock of Gibraltar stands 450m high, dominating the narrow strait into the Mediterranean from the Atlantic Ocean.’
    • ‘Countries such as the United States argue that the increasingly navigable waterway should be treated as an international strait, not Canadian waters.’
    • ‘‘The Northwest Passage is a strait for international navigation,’ says a State Department lawyer.’
    • ‘The two countries are linked by a causeway over a narrow strait which separates the two sides.’
    • ‘This was shipped through Taganrog, a port on the Sea of Azov which communicates through a narrow strait with the Black Sea.’
    • ‘Perhaps the deep-sea corals thrive better on the other side of the strait?’
    • ‘The harbor was circular with a long narrow strait leading into the sea.’
    • ‘Istanbul straddles the Bosphorus strait, the stretch of water which creates a natural north-south divide in the city and joins the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea.’
    • ‘The White Sea is a marginal sea of the Arctic Ocean connected with the Barents Sea by a shallow strait.’
    • ‘Then Low decided to explore the strait between Kanghwa Island and the Han River, informing the local officials that he was doing so.’
    • ‘Trails on the bluffs offer sights of Benicia and the strait.’
    • ‘‘The opening of the charter flights does not mean that direct sea and air links across the strait can also be realized,’ Chen said.’
    • ‘Following an opening of direct links, it may become possible to make day trips to China, geographical barriers will be eliminated, and there will be constant exchanges across the strait.’
    channel, sound, narrows, inlet, stretch of water, arm of the sea, sea passage, neck
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  • 2straitsUsed in reference to a situation characterized by a specified degree of trouble or difficulty.

    ‘the economy is in dire straits’
    ‘redundancy left him in severe financial straits’
    • ‘Farmers are in dire straits and not far behind them are the road hauliers.’
    • ‘Folk were in dire straits and because it was my home territory, I understood.’
    • ‘The Food Bank provides one-time emergency grocery assistance to those in dire straits, as well as providing one hot meal a week for about a month.’
    • ‘The organisation, founded two months ago, not only tries to help victims in dire straits, but also helps to arrange funerals for those killed.’
    • ‘But I, like many newer Canadians, do not carry the weight of having placed them in dire straits.’
    • ‘We do not believe that the country would really be in dire straits if we extended leave provisions to casual workers, the low-paid, or young people.’
    • ‘Nobody knows how many more cases will be identified, although Gruer knows they will continue to see people in desperate straits.’
    • ‘Just before the late summer sunburst farmers were in desperate straits because so little of their arable crop had been harvested, and huge losses were expected.’
    • ‘Many find themselves in desperate straits as the price they get for their products continues to slump.’
    • ‘So far European economic policy has not been designed to act as a locomotive to take over the lead in the world economy and the Japanese economy is in dire straits.’
    • ‘He added that City had been in dire straits several times before and had always managed to scrape their way clear.’
    • ‘‘People pass other climbers who are clearly in dire straits,’ says Tom Sjogren.’
    • ‘As most people are now aware farming has been in dire straits in recent years and the reason that most of them are surviving is due to the grants they receive from the Government.’
    • ‘That leaves county schools in dire straits, with many already having to unravel established teaching practices.’
    • ‘The local authorities are in dire straits financially.’
    • ‘We are compelled to do this when we are in dire straits.’
    • ‘Schools in this country, in the government system now are in dire straits in many cases.’
    • ‘Seeing local hospitals in dire straits, she convinced British drug manufacturers to donate medicine, which she later took to Russia.’
    • ‘In the 1840s, St Peter's School was in dire straits and about to close.’
    • ‘Now we know that everyone was in desperate straits down there.’
    a bad situation, a difficult situation, a sorry condition, difficulty, trouble, crisis, a mess, a predicament, a plight, a tight corner
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  • 1(of a place) of limited spatial capacity; narrow or cramped.

    ‘the road was so strait that a handful of men might have defended it’
    • ‘You either enter by a strait gate onto a narrow way or you go with the crowd through the wide gate and the broad way that leadeth to destruction.’
    • ‘First, He brought me here, it is by His will I am in this strait place: in that fact I will rest.’
    • ‘Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.’
    cramped, constricted, restricted, limited, confining, small, narrow, compact, tight, pinched, squeezed, poky, uncomfortable, inadequate, meagre
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    1. 1.1 Close, strict, or rigorous.
      ‘my captivity was strait as ever’
      • ‘Incensed with rage, he commands that his wife should be carried to strait prison until they heard further of his pleasure.’
      • ‘The bullets sang softly in their strait prison of steel and brass.’


Middle English: shortening of Old French estreit ‘tight, narrow’, from Latin strictus ‘drawn tight’ (see strict).