English Dictionary

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straits (streɪts) 


plural noun

  1. See to be in dire straits

strait (streɪt Pronunciation for strait



  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, emergency, distress, dilemma, embarrassment, plight, hardship, uphill, predicament, extremity, perplexity, panic stations, pretty or fine kettle of fish

Example Sentences Including 'straits'

'You are, as I remember the cricket commentators used to say, in dire straits.
Jon Cleary YESTERDAY'S SHADOW (2002)
But since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, the entire airline industry has been in dire straits.
Edmonton Sun (2003)
He said: "This child is clearly in dire straits to start off with.
Times, Sunday Times (2002)
MPs now caught in similar straits cannot use that line again.
Glasgow Herald (2001)
Reports from Bangalore indicate the firm, backed by eVentures India, is in dire straits.
Business Today (2001)
The Japanese people were in desperate straits at the end of the war, relying on American food to save them from starvation.
Grenville, J. A. S. The Collins History of the World in the 20th Century
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
There was a pride about her, even though she was in dire straits.
Appiganesi, Lisa Dreams of Innocence
Yet if an Australian traveller is in dire straits overseas and requires an immediate medical evacuation, DFAT can make it happen.
The Advertiser, Sunday Mail (2005)


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