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English Dictionary

Definitions of straits

straits  (streɪts) 


plural noun

  1. See to be in dire straits

strait  (streɪt



  1. (often plural)
    1. a narrow channel of the sea linking two larger areas of sea
    2. (capital as part of a name)   ⇒ the Strait of Gibraltar
  2. (often plural) a position of acute difficulty (often in the phrase in dire or desperate straits)
  3. (archaic) a narrow place or passage


  1. (of spaces, etc) affording little room
  2. (of circumstances, etc) limiting or difficult
  3. severe, strict, or scrupulous

Derived Forms

ˈstraitly  adverb
ˈstraitness  noun

Word Origin

C13: from Old French estreit narrow, from Latin strictus constricted, from stringere to bind tightly


View thesaurus entry
= channel, sound, narrows, stretch of water, sea passage
= difficulty, crisis, mess, pass, hole (slang), emergency, distress, dilemma, embarrassment, plight, hardship, uphill (South Africa), predicament, extremity, perplexity, panic stations (informal), pretty or fine kettle of fish (informal)

Example Sentences Including 'straits'

'You are, as I remember the cricket commentators used to say, in dire straits.
Jon Cleary YESTERDAY'S SHADOW (2002)
There was a pride about her, even though she was in dire straits.
Appiganesi, Lisa Dreams of Innocence
Their planned course would take them in through the straits between the Scillies and Land's End, past the Wolf Rock.
Lunnon-Wood, Mike Let Not the Deep


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