Definition of straw in English:

straw

noun

  • 1[mass noun] Dried stalks of grain, used especially as fodder or as material for thatching, packing, or weaving:

    [as modifier] ‘a straw hat’
    • ‘This unique facility will be constructed with natural materials - plastered straw bale walls with a turf roof.’
    • ‘After speaking to a building regulations officer, Rachel began researching straw as a building material.’
    • ‘The houses on the farm are falling to ruin, with straw thatching or tiles fallen in.’
    • ‘Houses had thatched roofs - thick straw - piled high, with no wood underneath.’
    • ‘The directive does require farmers to supply pigs with rooting materials such as straw, hay, wood, sawdust, compost or peat.’
    • ‘Houses had thatched roofs - thick straw piled high with no wood slats or sheathing underneath.’
    • ‘I am afraid I do not follow the reasoning as wheat straw thatch has been a common roof covering for hundreds of years.’
    • ‘I cleaned out and disinfected their compartment, and put in fresh bedding and put back some of their previous twigs and straw nesting materials.’
    • ‘Chessmen have been made in every conceivable material from straw to bronze.’
    • ‘Houses are usually rectangular and have mud walls and a gabled roof thatched with straw.’
    • ‘Then bundle the remainder of the exposed canes into groups of two or three with straw or other insulating material.’
    • ‘The straw thatch was not two feet above her face.’
    • ‘A bundle of straw for packing lies on the cobbles.’
    • ‘Provide dry, clean bedding materials such as straw or blankets and replace bedding if it becomes damp or wet.’
    • ‘Most households there rely on temporary or cyclical migration, combined with weaving straw figures.’
    • ‘Dig materials such as straw, peat, compost, and leaves into the soil, or lay them on as mulch.’
    • ‘The silage is presently enclosed by straw bales.’
    • ‘These include colorful straw mats, tightly woven coiled baskets, wooden milk pots and bowls, and smoking pipes.’
    • ‘As the roof was thatched with straw, it was soon a mass of flames.’
    • ‘Leather and vinal weaves look like straw but are more durable.’
    1. 1.1[count noun] A single dried stalk of grain:
      ‘the tramp sat chewing a straw’
      • ‘To tickle a horse's belly with a straw (the childhood memory), she had to select a single straw.’
      • ‘She had a straw clomped between her teeth and was chewing it energetically.’
      • ‘But I'm not about to argue that two straws make a haystack.’
      • ‘She stares at him and he looks at her and she asks, ‘Why are you chewing a straw?’’
      • ‘There is a year-round drought and all the peasants that we saw on the road were covered in yellow mud on their hands and faces, their hair was standing up like straws and their clothes were dusty.’
      • ‘‘Of course,’ Mike replied between chews on a straw held carelessly between his teeth.’
      • ‘It depicted a farm girl chewing on a straw and sitting in a field with her back to her suitor after some argument.’
      • ‘After picking each straw it was decided that Josh would go first.’
      • ‘She spends her days trimming a leafy fern with a pair of ‘scissors’ made of two straws and a rubberband.’
      • ‘Sit under the dryer, then remove the straws or rods and pull curls apart.’
      stem, shoot, trunk, stock, cane, bine, bent, haulm, straw, reed
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 A pale yellow colour like that of straw.
      • ‘She was straw blonde, a colour which the girls of his nation could never imitate even with dye, and her eyes were big and blue.’
      • ‘A small, skinny boy with straw - coloured hair and bright blue eyes stood in front of the two people.’
      • ‘In every direction, the normally lush fairways of La Manga's south course were a sickly straw colour and the greens were a pallid brown.’
      • ‘The first pour and sniff reveal a pale straw colour, a constant stream of bubbles and a whoosh of extraordinary freshness.’
      • ‘E.Coli causes a straw yellow type scour in calves one to four days old.’
      • ‘The only difference was the hair color; Jillian's was a fair, straw color, clashing with Aubrey's sandy locks.’
      • ‘Using long-handled tongs, he holds the metal in the forge until it heats to a dull red or straw color, then quickly moves it to the anvil.’
      • ‘With the first frost in the fall, it goes dormant and changes from green in color to a straw or pale yellow-brown.’
      • ‘Everywhere you look the grass is straw yellow, dead, the hard ground dry as old bones.’
      • ‘Very occasionally they are colourless, but they usually range from pale green, through straw, pale copper, and deep gold to amber.’
      • ‘Several large oak and beech trees were located around the house, their leaves gathering around the lawn in colors of copper, scarlet, and straw.’
      • ‘His hair had stayed the same fair straw colour, while mine had reverted to an auburn chestnut shade.’
      • ‘Their hair ranged from inky blacks, to pale straw, to warm brown, and honey blonde.’
      • ‘Her skin was a dusty brown running to a straw yellow about the eyes and nose, around the startling red of her lips.’
      • ‘Leaving Graham to paint a rather pleasant pale straw yellow on the guestroom walls I went off for my weekend provisioning shop.’
      • ‘You'll know you're hydrated when your urine is a pale straw colour - and there should be plenty of it.’
      • ‘The field was yellow - not drab straw but vibrant van Gogh strokes under the low sun.’
      • ‘An old favourite and the classic apéritif, it has a bright polished straw colour that gleams in the glass.’
      • ‘In the glass it is pale straw yellow; on the nose it is softly floral.’
  • 2A thin hollow tube of paper or plastic for sucking drink from a glass or bottle.

    • ‘A pot of sorghum beer is placed in the center of the room with numerous reed straws, and participants come forward to partake.’
    • ‘To keep the stems standing straight, slip them into clear plastic drinking straws or vinyl tubing.’
    • ‘The girl took the money off us and Liam gathered up salt sachets and straws as I sat down with the food.’
    • ‘Natalie pulled out the thin straw and poured half of the glass down her throat.’
    • ‘Maud sat on her cream deckchair every day, shading her face with a big floppy sunhat, and sipping cool pink lemonade through a yellow straw.’
    • ‘Using plain white and ivory paper, straws and pipe cleaners, she creates faux gemstones, crystals and pearls.’
    • ‘Garnish with a fresh mint sprig and a straw cut short enough so that you almost bury your nose in the mint as you sip.’
    • ‘I once saw a girl drinking beer from a pint glass with a straw.’
    • ‘Cooper put her lips to the straw and tried the drink.’
    • ‘He took another drink of the soda, the plastic straw squeaking against the plastic lid as he did so.’
    • ‘They get identical orange drinks, which they sip through thin straws and pretty good teeth.’
    • ‘In the accompanying photographs, the celebrity can be seen drinking her alcopop with a straw out of a glass.’
    • ‘She was straddled across a terrified studenty looking lad who was drinking from a straw in the bottle.’
    • ‘Grinning, Jay placed a pink umbrella and a curly yellow straw in it and slid it over the table towards her.’
    • ‘I haven't seen them sipping a soda with two straws in quite a while.’
    • ‘In an attempt to fool officials, smugglers painstakingly filled hundreds of drinking straws with crack cocaine and inserted them into the corrugated padding of a cardboard box.’
    • ‘They are then asked to blow through a straw into a glass tube with a screw cap lid.’
    • ‘She plays absent-mindedly with the straw of her drink.’
    • ‘I look at it; dark drink with neon yellow straw and smile, lifting the glass.’
    • ‘Afterwards, a student purchases the food product, and then obtains the required cutlery and accessories such as straws, napkins and condiment containers.’

Phrases

  • clutch (or grasp or catch) at straws

    • Be in such a desperate situation as to resort to even the most unlikely means of salvation.

      • ‘His dreams are wrong-headed and he clutches at straws, missing the salvation that's offered him.’
      • ‘However, they seem to be desperately grasping at straws in this case.’
      • ‘And while straws can still be grasped at up to that moment, the chance of man or machine breaking down is almost unimaginable, though, admittedly, not entirely impossible.’
      • ‘She sat up in bed and looked around, grasping for straws.’
      • ‘Walter's dream of a just world ‘that will come one day’ is now merely a straw at which he clutches.’
      • ‘Most of his supporters in Ohio had all but admitted defeat yesterday morning, too crestfallen to clutch at legal straws and not surprised by his decision to concede.’
      • ‘When interventionists resort to that kind of argument, they are grasping at straws.’
      • ‘This is a case of desperate men clutching at straws.’
      • ‘This is at best wishful thinking and grasping at last straws.’
      • ‘But perhaps the most glaring example of someone clutching at broadcasting straws when he should have retired gracefully years ago is this presenter.’
  • draw the short straw

    • Be the unluckiest of a group of people, especially in being chosen to perform an unpleasant task.

      • ‘The captain's 17-year-old cousin drew the short straw.’
      • ‘Those teams who drew the short straw and got the 8.30 am start really feel the impact of their night-time activities.’
      • ‘He drew the short straw when we ran out of room in the shelter).’
      • ‘I drew the short straw which meant that my room became the guest room, complete with a newly inflated queen size bed.’
      • ‘Limerick drew the short straw, now having to travel to Glasnevin to play a St Vincent's side that has been improving by leaps and bounds in recent weeks.’
      • ‘I refuse to believe that I drew the short straw.’
      • ‘I think he drew the short straw in the Labour Cabinet.’
      • ‘My department drew the short straw on re-location and from tomorrow we get to work in Earlsfield in the London borough of Wandsworth for seven weeks.’
      • ‘With paper for books and magazines in short supply, writers in particular drew the short straw.’
      • ‘Obviously, someone had to draw the short straw.’
  • draw straws

    • Draw lots.

      • ‘We drew straws to decide on who would do the shooting.’
      • ‘So it's just a matter of deciding who plays which move, perhaps by drawing straws or cutting cards.’
      • ‘We drew straws in the clubhouse, and I got the short one.’
      • ‘Beer drinkers had to draw straws for the last pint after barrels in a Strensall pub ran dry, the landlady has claimed.’
      • ‘I had a mental picture of these guys drawing straws for weeks to see who would end up with this gig.’
      • ‘Given David's interest in his wine cellar, it's a great bonus to be able to sample freely from his wine list without having to draw straws about who drives home.’
      • ‘We drew straws to see who had to come and wake you up.’
      • ‘So if there's a problem upstairs that is in the way, then you have to draw straws.’
      • ‘We drew straws to decide who would sleep at the edge,’ recalls Band, who had the honour.’
      • ‘He draws straws to determine who he'll see, so don't hold your breath.’
      decide randomly, spin a coin, toss a coin, throw dice, draw straws, cut straws, decide on the toss of a coin, decide on the throw of a die, dice, decide on the drawing of straws
      View synonyms
  • the last (or final) straw

    • A further difficulty or annoyance, typically minor in itself but coming on top of a series of difficulties, that makes a situation unbearable:

      ‘his affair was the last straw’
      • ‘The problem of the compensation payment, coupled with difficulties in keeping up with Inland Revenue repayments, proved the final straw for the club.’
      • ‘But the recent incident, just two doors up from her house, involving a truck driver who has since admitted being over the drink drive limit, was the final straw.’
      • ‘The 150th raid on the oil giant's offices was the last straw.’
      • ‘In recent years, many have given up and the current weather is the last straw for some who're getting out of farming altogether this year.’
      • ‘Carr's possible departure would then be the last straw.’
      • ‘I got really stressed and annoyed with them for a number of reasons, none of them particularly valid but it was a case of the last few straws.’
      • ‘Shops and vehicles have been targeted in the latest series of attacks in Kew and it has proved the final straw for local people.’
      • ‘A 10 per cent increase in council tax will, for many householders and especially pensioners, be the last straw.’
      • ‘After three nights with no sleep and the fear of losing everything, your senseless, stupid act was the last straw.’
      • ‘We observe as a situation under his command ends badly, which is the final straw.’
      the last straw, the straw that broke the camel's back, enough, more than enough
      View synonyms
  • not care (or give) a straw (or two straws)

    • Not have the slightest concern about:

      ‘you don't care a straw what I think’
      • ‘At moments it seemed to him he did not care a straw whether Ursula or Hermione or anybody else existed or did not exist.’
      • ‘If you do not know in the same way that I know this is the Work of God, I would not give a straw for your religion.’
      • ‘But the King did not care a straw whether the sweet young woman he intended to marry spoke or not.’
      • ‘He was wrong in supposing that he did not care a straw who should have bought the old place.’
      • ‘If annihilation is to follow death I shall not be aware of the annihilation, and therefore shall not care a straw about it.’
      • ‘He reacts irritably to every word that has the faintest suggestion of criticism, while he himself does not care a straw for his own moral code if his actions happen to run counter to its statutes.’
      • ‘It reads, ‘I do not care a straw whether To-day is spelled with a hyphen or without.’’
      • ‘It needs other people to do the job: futurists which do not care a straw about media hacks, but do care about their place in history.’
      • ‘They did not care two straws whether man was descended from the ape or not.’
      • ‘She does not care a straw where she is or what is to become of her.’
  • a straw in the wind

    • A slight hint of future developments.

      • ‘It is a snapshot, a straw in the wind and should only be regarded as an unscientific measure.’
      • ‘This nastiness is just a straw in the wind, a small beginning.’
      • ‘He'll be left nameless here for fear of embarrassing or stigmatizing him, but we can hope his selection was a straw in the wind.’
      • ‘Moreover, there have been other straws in the wind.’
      • ‘There have been other straws in the wind, some related, some not.’
      • ‘The Senate's refusal last year to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty may have been a straw in the wind.’
      • ‘There are straws in the wind that could influence the outcomes in marginal urban and extra-urban constituencies.’
      • ‘Various straws in the wind make me less worried, and the consensus seems to be that the re-establishment of some ‘stable’ authoritarian apparatus is not in the cards.’
      • ‘This week's people are likely to be unreliable as straws in the wind and playing mind games.’
      • ‘But there are some straws in the wind blowing that way.’

Origin

Old English strēaw, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch stroo and German Stroh, also to strew.

Pronunciation

straw

/strɔː/