Definition of straw in US English:



  • 1Dried stalks of grain, used especially as fodder or as material for thatching, packing, or weaving.

    as modifier ‘a straw hat’
    • ‘As the roof was thatched with straw, it was soon a mass of flames.’
    • ‘Chessmen have been made in every conceivable material from straw to bronze.’
    • ‘A bundle of straw for packing lies on the cobbles.’
    • ‘The straw thatch was not two feet above her face.’
    • ‘The houses on the farm are falling to ruin, with straw thatching or tiles fallen in.’
    • ‘The directive does require farmers to supply pigs with rooting materials such as straw, hay, wood, sawdust, compost or peat.’
    • ‘Dig materials such as straw, peat, compost, and leaves into the soil, or lay them on as mulch.’
    • ‘This unique facility will be constructed with natural materials - plastered straw bale walls with a turf roof.’
    • ‘Provide dry, clean bedding materials such as straw or blankets and replace bedding if it becomes damp or wet.’
    • ‘I cleaned out and disinfected their compartment, and put in fresh bedding and put back some of their previous twigs and straw nesting materials.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘After speaking to a building regulations officer, Rachel began researching straw as a building material.’
    • ‘Leather and vinal weaves look like straw but are more durable.’
    • ‘Houses had thatched roofs - thick straw piled high with no wood slats or sheathing underneath.’
    • ‘Then bundle the remainder of the exposed canes into groups of two or three with straw or other insulating material.’
    • ‘Houses had thatched roofs - thick straw - piled high, with no wood underneath.’
    • ‘I am afraid I do not follow the reasoning as wheat straw thatch has been a common roof covering for hundreds of years.’
    • ‘Most households there rely on temporary or cyclical migration, combined with weaving straw figures.’
    • ‘Houses are usually rectangular and have mud walls and a gabled roof thatched with straw.’
    fodder, feed, food, foodstuff, herbage, pasturage
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A single dried stalk of grain.
      ‘the tramp sat chewing a straw’
      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘She spends her days trimming a leafy fern with a pair of ‘scissors’ made of two straws and a rubberband.’
      • ‘To tickle a horse's belly with a straw (the childhood memory), she had to select a single straw.’
      • ‘Sit under the dryer, then remove the straws or rods and pull curls apart.’
      • ‘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?’’
      • ‘After picking each straw it was decided that Josh would go first.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She had a straw clomped between her teeth and was chewing it energetically.’
      stem, shoot, trunk, stock, cane, bine, bent, haulm, reed
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 A stalk of grain or something similar used in drawing lots.
      ‘we had to draw straws for the food we had’
      • ‘I will draw straws to determine who will answer which of the questions.’
      • ‘A group of men would draw straws to select two of their number.’
    3. 1.3 A pale yellow color like that of straw.
      as modifier ‘a dull straw color’
      • ‘Leaving Graham to paint a rather pleasant pale straw yellow on the guestroom walls I went off for my weekend provisioning shop.’
      • ‘With the first frost in the fall, it goes dormant and changes from green in color to a straw or pale yellow-brown.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Very occasionally they are colourless, but they usually range from pale green, through straw, pale copper, and deep gold to amber.’
      • ‘The first pour and sniff reveal a pale straw colour, a constant stream of bubbles and a whoosh of extraordinary freshness.’
      • ‘Several large oak and beech trees were located around the house, their leaves gathering around the lawn in colors of copper, scarlet, and straw.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A small, skinny boy with straw - coloured hair and bright blue eyes stood in front of the two people.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Her skin was a dusty brown running to a straw yellow about the eyes and nose, around the startling red of her lips.’
      • ‘The only difference was the hair color; Jillian's was a fair, straw color, clashing with Aubrey's sandy locks.’
      • ‘In the glass it is pale straw yellow; on the nose it is softly floral.’
      • ‘Their hair ranged from inky blacks, to pale straw, to warm brown, and honey blonde.’
      • ‘His hair had stayed the same fair straw colour, while mine had reverted to an auburn chestnut shade.’
      • ‘E.Coli causes a straw yellow type scour in calves one to four days old.’
      • ‘An old favourite and the classic apéritif, it has a bright polished straw colour that gleams in the glass.’
      • ‘Everywhere you look the grass is straw yellow, dead, the hard ground dry as old bones.’
  • 2A thin hollow tube of paper or plastic for sucking drink from a glass or bottle.

    • ‘I haven't seen them sipping a soda with two straws in quite a while.’
    • ‘She was straddled across a terrified studenty looking lad who was drinking from a straw in the bottle.’
    • ‘They are then asked to blow through a straw into a glass tube with a screw cap lid.’
    • ‘In the accompanying photographs, the celebrity can be seen drinking her alcopop with a straw out of a glass.’
    • ‘To keep the stems standing straight, slip them into clear plastic drinking straws or vinyl tubing.’
    • ‘Grinning, Jay placed a pink umbrella and a curly yellow straw in it and slid it over the table towards her.’
    • ‘He took another drink of the soda, the plastic straw squeaking against the plastic lid as he did so.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She plays absent-mindedly with the straw of her drink.’
    • ‘They get identical orange drinks, which they sip through thin straws and pretty good teeth.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Natalie pulled out the thin straw and poured half of the glass down her throat.’
    • ‘I look at it; dark drink with neon yellow straw and smile, lifting the glass.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A pot of sorghum beer is placed in the center of the room with numerous reed straws, and participants come forward to partake.’
    • ‘The girl took the money off us and Liam gathered up salt sachets and straws as I sat down with the food.’
    • ‘Afterwards, a student purchases the food product, and then obtains the required cutlery and accessories such as straws, napkins and condiment containers.’


  • draw the short straw

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

      • ‘I refuse to believe that I drew the short straw.’
      • ‘I think he drew the short straw in the Labour Cabinet.’
      • ‘Obviously, someone had to draw the short straw.’
      • ‘The captain's 17-year-old cousin drew the short straw.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘With paper for books and magazines in short supply, writers in particular 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.’
      • ‘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.’
  • the last (or final) straw

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

      ‘his affair was the last straw’
      • ‘Shops and vehicles have been targeted in the latest series of attacks in Kew and it has proved the final straw for local people.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘After three nights with no sleep and the fear of losing everything, your senseless, stupid act was the last straw.’
      • ‘A 10 per cent increase in council tax will, for many householders and especially pensioners, be the last straw.’
      • ‘We observe as a situation under his command ends badly, which is the final straw.’
      • ‘The 150th raid on the oil giant's offices was the last straw.’
      • ‘Carr's possible departure would then be 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 last straw, the straw that broke the camel's back, enough, more than enough
      View synonyms
  • 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.’
      • ‘There are straws in the wind that could influence the outcomes in marginal urban and extra-urban constituencies.’
      • ‘But there are some straws in the wind blowing that way.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There have been other straws in the wind, some related, some not.’
      • ‘This nastiness is just a straw in the wind, a small beginning.’
      • ‘The Senate's refusal last year to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty may have been a straw in the wind.’
      • ‘This week's people are likely to be unreliable as straws in the wind and playing mind games.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Moreover, there have been other straws in the wind.’
  • grasp (or clutch or catch) at straws (or a straw)

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

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘When interventionists resort to that kind of argument, they are grasping at straws.’
      • ‘But perhaps the most glaring example of someone clutching at broadcasting straws when he should have retired gracefully years ago is this presenter.’
      • ‘His dreams are wrong-headed and he clutches at straws, missing the salvation that's offered him.’
      • ‘Walter's dream of a just world ‘that will come one day’ is now merely a straw at which he clutches.’
      • ‘This is a case of desperate men clutching at straws.’
      • ‘This is at best wishful thinking and grasping at last straws.’
      • ‘However, they seem to be desperately grasping at straws in this case.’
      • ‘She sat up in bed and looked around, grasping for straws.’


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