Definition of stray in English:

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Pronunciation: /strā/


[no object]
1Move away aimlessly from a group or from the right course or place: I strayed a few blocks in the wrong direction dog owners are urged not to allow their dogs to stray the military arrested anyone who strayed into the exclusion zone
More example sentences
  • Once or twice I thought I had strayed into a lecture course for undergraduates, because it feels as if the writer is repeating things he has said before.
  • The Marines were arrested after they strayed into Iranian waters.
  • No fewer than four aircraft had strayed into the exclusion zone around Elvington, putting the lives of those in the air and on the ground at risk.
wander off, go astray, get separated, get lost
digress, deviate, wander, get sidetracked, go off on/at a tangent, veer off;
get off the subject
1.1(Of the eyes or a hand) move idly or casually in a specified direction: her eyes strayed to the telephone
More example sentences
  • His right hand strays to his cheek where it's quickly becoming red.
  • ‘Stephanie,’ Rayne began, eyes straying to my legs before falling on my face.
  • The soldiers stiffened, their hands straying closer to the triggers pointed at her people.
1.2(Of a person who is married or in a long-term relationship) be unfaithful: men who stray are seen as more exciting and desirable
More example sentences
  • Many people say that if their partner strayed, they would prefer not to know about it.
  • Spouses sulk or stray; their adoptive mother feels rejected; their children get neglected.
  • Wild sex in all its variations night after night does not keep your partner from straying.
be unfaithful, have affairs, cheat, philander
informal play around, play the field
1.3 literary Wander or roam in a specified direction: over these mounds the Kurdish shepherd strays


1Not in the right place; separated from the group or target: he pushed a few stray hairs from her face she was killed by a stray bullet
More example sentences
  • The long-haired variety needs a regular brush and comb and occasional trimming of stray hairs.
  • A stray hair can lead to unpleasant sensations in one's mouth.
  • She hurriedly grabbed her papers, gloves, and keys, tucked a stray hair behind her ear and looked sternly at me.
random, chance, freak, unexpected, isolated, lone, single
1.1(Of a domestic animal) having no home or having wandered away from home: stray dogs
More example sentences
  • Your child should never touch or feed stray cats or dogs wandering in the neighborhood or elsewhere.
  • And he has a string of bands to take to the stage to help raise cash for abandoned and stray cats and dogs.
  • The stray cats were seen wandering around in the greenland of Yandlord Garden, playing and searching for food day and night.
homeless, lost, strayed, gone astray, abandoned
2 Physics (Of a physical quantity) arising as a consequence of the laws of physics, not by deliberate design, and usually having a detrimental effect on the operation or efficiency of equipment: stray capacitance
More example sentences
  • This method relies on the assumption that the stray capacitance and membrane conductance are negligible.
  • And so what we were trying to do was to design radio frequency probes that gave stray magnetic fields of a very precise nature that we could compensate for in the equipment.
  • That's possible because all computers emit stray radiation.


1A stray person or thing, especially a domestic animal.
Example sentences
  • The former stray, who had been Mr Boffey's companion for the past three years, was later found unharmed in another farm vehicle.
  • It seemed to be a healthy animal, not a wild stray, and more importantly, it sported a black collar.
  • Cats are meat eaters so a large bowl of good quality tinned cat food along with a handful of dried cat food and a bowl of fresh water will most probably get a very warm reception from a hungry stray.
homeless animal, stray dog/cat, waif
2 (strays) Electrical phenomena interfering with radio reception.
Example sentences
  • A description of the origin and nature of strays and their classification is given; together with a number of methods for their elimination.
  • Using this method, the test specimen may remain connected to the circuit throughout, so that a usual source of difficulty, the variation in strays upon connexion, is avoided.



Example sentences
  • The Senate Democrats, for instance, have four deputy whips whose job it is to get strayers into line on pivotal issues like, say, Social Security.
  • Ray Jubitz was 3rd runner-up following quite a tidy round which unfortunately collected a few strayers affecting his final score.
  • This observation contrasts with experiments with anadromous trout which show that strayers, i.e. individuals spawning in a ‘wrong’ river, are most likely to ascend a river in close proximity to the natal river.


Middle English: shortening of Anglo-Norman French and Old French estrayer (verb), Anglo-Norman French strey (noun), partly from astray.

Words that rhyme with stray

affray, agley, aka, allay, Angers, A-OK, appellation contrôlée, array, assay, astray, au fait, auto-da-fé, away, aweigh, aye, bay, belay, betray, bey, Bombay, Bordet, boulevardier, bouquet, brae, bray, café au lait, Carné, cassoulet, Cathay, chassé, chevet, chez, chiné, clay, convey, Cray, crème brûlée, crudités, cuvée, cy-pres, day, decay, deejay, dégagé, distinguée, downplay, dray, Dufay, Dushanbe, eh, embay, engagé, essay, everyday, faraway, fay, fey, flay, fray, Frey, fromage frais, gainsay, Gaye, Genet, giclee, gilet, glissé, gray, grey, halfway, hay, heigh, hey, hooray, Hubei, Hué, hurray, inveigh, jay, jeunesse dorée, José, Kay, Kaye, Klee, Kray, Lae, lay, lei, Littré, Lough Neagh, lwei, Mae, maguey, Malay, Mallarmé, Mandalay, Marseilles, may, midday, midway, mislay, misplay, Monterrey, Na-Dene, nay, né, née, neigh, Ney, noway, obey, O'Dea, okay, olé, outlay, outplay, outstay, outweigh, oyez, part-way, pay, Pei, per se, pince-nez, play, portray, pray, prey, purvey, qua, Quai d'Orsay, Rae, rangé, ray, re, reflet, relevé, roman-à-clef, Santa Fé, say, sei, Shar Pei, shay, slay, sleigh, sley, spae, spay, Spey, splay, spray, stay, straightaway, straightway, strathspey, Sui, survey, sway, Taipei, Tay, they, today, tokay, Torbay, Tournai, trait, tray, trey, two-way, ukiyo-e, underlay, way, waylay, Wei, weigh, wey, Whangarei, whey, yea

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: stray

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