Definition of stroke in English:

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Pronunciation: /strəʊk/


1An act of hitting or striking someone or something; a blow: he received three strokes of the cane
More example sentences
  • Mullahs accused of teaching friends to read the Qu'ran in Arabic received whippings of 500 strokes or more.
  • The long clipper strokes are called ‘blows’ and this one, over the sheep's throat is the blow that requires the most skill of all.
  • He traps it between his legs, bends over at 90 degrees, and begins 70 to 150 ‘blows’ or strokes with his shears.
blow, hit, thump, thwack, punch, slap, smack, welt, cuff, box, knock, rap, buffet
informal wallop, clobber, clout, whack, bash, belt, sock, bop, biff, swipe, slug
archaic smite
1.1A method of striking the ball in sports or games.
Example sentences
  • Kirchoff capped a fine game by converting a penalty stroke with two field goals completing the scoring.
  • US goal keeper Jeb Saez saved a penalty stroke late in the game to keep the score at 11-1.
  • But Korea, after missing a penalty stroke, scored three goals but lost by the narrowest of margins.
shot, hit, strike
1.2 Golf An act of hitting the ball with a club, as a unit of scoring: he won by two strokes
More example sentences
  • The average 90-shooter loses more strokes due to poor club and shot selection than to a bad swing or missed shot.
  • The Irishman is now two under, three strokes behind Tiger Woods.
  • Just enter as you play and it keeps track of your strokes, putts and score for a full round.
1.3The sound made by a striking clock: the first stroke would belt out from the clock
More example sentences
  • Erik closed the door softly behind him as he entered, but it sounded like the stroke of a clock moments before death.
  • There was a strong stroke and a weak one, like a sound and its echo.
  • A clock chimed in the distance, its final count ending at eleven strokes.
peal, ring, knell, striking, ding-dong, boom
2A mark made by drawing a pen, pencil, or paintbrush in one direction across paper or canvas: the paint had been applied in careful, regular strokes
More example sentences
  • Look closely at the pencil strokes in this drawing and you will not see one faltering line.
  • Katz's forte is history of ideas, on a grand canvas with bold strokes of broad brushes.
  • I didn't even bother looking up; I just drew faster, making quick violent strokes on the paper.
mark, line, slash, solidus, virgule
2.1A line forming part of a written or printed character.
Example sentences
  • Dongzi draws casual strokes or writes Chinese characters on ceramic ware.
  • Each is pronounced in either the original Chinese or Japanese form and each consists of 24 strokes.
  • The straight horizontal and vertical strokes of the characters had been cut into the shapes of propitious things, such as lucky birds, lotuses and guavas.
2.2A short printed or written diagonal line typically separating characters or figures.
3An act of moving one’s hand across a surface with gentle pressure: massage the cream into your skin using light upward strokes
More example sentences
  • Run the razor under the shower and then begin with some slow, gentle strokes in an upward motion.
  • Then, using the lightest pressure possible, roll with gentle, overlapping strokes to finish off.
  • For a final time it passed its forearm over the limb and with a gentle stroke of her fur stepped away.
4Each of a series of movements in which something moves out of its position and back into it: the ray swam with effortless strokes of its huge wings
More example sentences
  • Every gesture, every stroke, every movement should be accepted by the system, with nuanced response.
  • However, as speed increased, fin strokes gradually moved toward synchrony with no discrete transition point.
4.1The whole motion of a piston in either direction.
Example sentences
  • On the downward stroke of the piston, the intake valve opens to release fuel into the combustion chamber, then closes.
  • During the filling stroke of the accumulator piston, the compressed fluid is drawn from the primary piston.
  • During the compression stroke, the piston moves up the cylinder, squeezing this fuel-air mix.
4.2The rhythm to which a series of repeated movements is performed: the rowers sing to keep their stroke
More example sentences
  • Then make it a habit to monitor your efficiency by constantly counting your strokes in practice repeats.
4.3A movement of the arms and legs forming one of a series in swimming: I slipped into the water and swam a few strokes
More example sentences
  • Last year I had the luxury of swimming a few strokes backstroke so I could get a good look at the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • This is also an indication of the ability to swim with fewer strokes per lap.
  • When you swim with long strokes you are training all of the muscle mass needed for fast efficient swimming.
movement, action, motion, move
4.4A particular style of moving the arms and legs in swimming: front crawl is a popular stroke
More example sentences
  • Over the years Emily has demonstrated tremendous versatility winning gold medals in all strokes in the regional championships.
  • The torque or rotation in these strokes occurs in the lower torso, hips and legs.
  • For both strokes, you should have extremely good elbow bend-around 90 degrees.
4.5(In rowing) the mode or action of moving the oar.
Example sentences
  • The oarsmen rotated their oars at four strokes per half minute and didn't show any signs of fatigue.
  • Canada was rating 48 strokes per minute and Australia was right up there on 45.
  • The 25-year-olds stop in a pool of light, adjust their foot straps, then, as one, lean into their strokes, tearing chunks from the water.
4.6 (also stroke oar) The oar or oarsman nearest the stern of a boat, setting the timing for the other rowers.
Example sentences
  • Today Bencsik in stroke took his boat to the lead and for the first half of the race the duo led the field by just over a boat length.
  • Cech in stroke seat had his boat in a two and a half second lead over Germany's number two crew by the 1000.
  • I managed one kick and had to hang on to the stern before hauling myself back into the stroke seat.
5A sudden disabling attack or loss of consciousness caused by an interruption in the flow of blood to the brain, especially through thrombosis: he was left disabled by a stroke [mass noun]: smoking increases the risk of stroke
More example sentences
  • The pollution could also restrict their blood flow, causing strokes and heart attacks.
  • By preventing the formation of blood clots it can reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks.
  • More serious risks include life-threatening blood clots, stroke, and heart attack.
thrombosis, embolism, cerebral vascular accident, CVA, cerebral haemorrhage, ictus, seizure
archaic apoplexy


[with object]
1Move one’s hand with gentle pressure over (a surface), typically repeatedly; caress: he put his hand on her hair and stroked it
More example sentences
  • Anna sat by the bed, once again, stroking his hair, and she stroked his side too.
  • The first, innocuous shower stroked the lake's surface but, when the wind came up, the loons began to call madly.
  • Imaginary fingers combed through his hair, stroked the side of his face.
caress, fondle, pat, pet, touch, brush, rub, massage, knead, soothe;
manipulate, finger, handle, feel, maul, tickle
informal paw
1.1 [with object and adverbial of place] Apply (something) to a surface using a gentle movement: she strokes blue eyeshadow on her eyelids
More example sentences
  • She pulled out a blue lipstick and stroked it across her lips.
  • He murmured quietly, stroking the marks down his arm.
  • Lipstick had stroked a thin line across her lips, while delicately manicured and bejewelled fingers beat out an impatient rhythm on the menu cover.
1.2North American informal Reassure or flatter (someone), especially in order to gain their cooperation: production executives were expert at stroking stars and brokering talent
More example sentences
  • He had us in the palm of his baby-sized hands and instead of choking us in his usual cynicism, he joked with us and stroked us affectionately.
  • He's a very personable individual, and they like it when they go over and stroke him.
  • If you're not taking care of me, stroking me, anticipating my whims - you must be doing something wrong.
2Act as the stroke of (a boat or crew): he stroked the coxed four to victory
More example sentences
  • Together they won the third heat today with their only real challenge coming from a higher stroking Great Britain crew.
  • The Queensland crew was stroked by World Junior Silver medallist in the single scull Eugene Arendsen.
  • Also qualifying is Russia and the 2000 Olympic gold crew from Italy stroked by Alessio Sartori.
3Hit or kick (a ball) smoothly and deliberately: Markwick stroked the ball home
More example sentences
  • Monaco's players are just stroking the ball around for fun now, with the Chelsea players reduced to chasing shadows.
  • The huge Dutch contingent in the crowd is in fine voice as their players stroke the ball around.
  • For half an hour he had showed himself, through the unhurried ease with which he stroked the ball around, to be a cut above.



at a (or one) stroke

By a single action having immediate effect: attitudes cannot be changed at a stroke
More example sentences
  • This more than doubled Artemis's size at a stroke, as well as giving it a much stronger marketing platform on which to build.
  • And he is probably calculating his salary will double or treble at a stroke.
  • Towns don't often get the opportunity to double its centre at a stroke.

not (or never) do a stroke of work

Do no work at all: he has long, pale hands which have clearly never done a stroke of work
More example sentences
  • The best person that has ever worked with my cutting machines is a boy only 18 years old, who never did a stroke of work in his life before that.
  • Lucretia is one of those lucky movie journalists who never does a stroke of work.
  • It was said that Winston's father, Randolph, never did a stroke of work in his whole life, and neither did his mother Jennie.

on the stroke of ——

Precisely at the specified time: he arrived on the stroke of two
More example sentences
  • The all-clear was officially given on the stroke of New Year's Day.
  • Derry finally crossed for North Yorkshire on the stroke of half-time following a flowing cross-field move.
  • Their lead didn't last long, however, as right on the stroke of half-time the sides were level again.

put someone off their stroke

Disconcert someone so that they do not work or perform as well as they might: the man’s presence put him off his stroke on the phone
More example sentences
  • That's the noise that puts them off their stroke at the Dubbo golf course.

stroke of genius

An outstandingly brilliant and original idea: the new piece of propaganda was a stroke of genius
More example sentences
  • Alan Rickman as Snape was a brilliant stroke of genius.
  • This seemed like a brilliant stroke of genius - until the guys at the other side of the intersection did the same thing.
  • This bit of the information was Robert Shields' idea, a stroke of genius.
feat, accomplishment, achievement, attainment, coup, master stroke, stratagem

stroke of (good) luck

A fortunate occurrence that could not have been predicted or expected: it was a stroke of luck that he hadn’t left yet
More example sentences
  • And it is only a stroke of luck which has helped him gain a middle order slot in the first and second Tests.
  • When you lose, don't lose the lesson - remember that not getting what you want can sometimes be a wonderful stroke of luck.
  • Having different cultures is a stroke of luck for a country.



Example sentences
  • It's all about the cute factor: the cats in Catz are eminently strokeable, with bags of personality.
  • The case itself is very simple, comprising two pieces of hard plastic with a strokeable, soft feel.
  • But best of all, the Maine Coon Cat is decidedly strokeable, like liquid silk to the touch.


Example sentences
  • Gurgling underwater cries of ‘Manny’ were lost on my fellow strokers, but at least I entertained myself.
  • They fit a classification - power strokers - which, in essence, indicates they put less revolution on the ball as pure power players.
  • These are players who can qualify both as crankers and power strokers.


Old English strācian 'caress lightly', of Germanic origin; related to Dutch streek 'a stroke', German streichen 'to stroke', also to strike. The earliest noun sense 'blow' is first recorded in Middle English.

  • strike from Old English:

    In Anglo-Saxon times to strike was ‘to go or flow’ or ‘to rub lightly’, close in meaning to the related word stroke which shares a Germanic root. By the Middle Ages striking had become more forceful, and the word was being used in the familiar sense ‘hit’. To strike while the iron is hot is a metaphor from the blacksmith's forge, where iron can only be hammered into shape while it is hot. The proverb is quoted by Geoffrey Chaucer in 1386 and used in a slightly modified form by Shakespeare in Henry VI Part 3: ‘Strike now, or else the iron cools.’ The sort of strike that involves stopping work as a protest was first heard of in 1810, but the verb, meaning ‘to go on strike’, was earlier. This quote from the Annual Register of 1768 could be the source of the term: ‘A body of sailors…proceeded…to Sunderland…and went on board the several ships in that harbour, and struck [lowered] their yards [spars], in order to prevent them from proceeding to sea’. In the 1980s legislation was passed in some states of the USA known as the three strikes law or rule. It makes an offender's third felony punishable by life imprisonment or other severe sentence. The term comes from baseball—if a batter has three ‘strikes’, or unsuccessful attempts to hit a pitched ball, they ‘strike out’ or are out.

Words that rhyme with stroke

awoke, bespoke, bloke, broke, choke, cloak, Coke, convoke, croak, evoke, folk, invoke, joke, Koch, moke, oak, okey-doke, poke, provoke, revoke, roque, smoke, soak, soke, spoke, stoke, stony-broke (US stone-broke), toke, toque, woke, yoke, yolk

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: stroke

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