n. often straits
1. A narrow channel joining two larger bodies of water: straits that were treacherous; the Strait of Gibraltar; the Bosporus Straits.
2. A position of difficulty, perplexity, distress, or need: in desperate straits.
a. Difficult; stressful.
b. Having or marked by limited funds or resources.
a. Narrow or confined.
b. Fitting tightly; constricted.
3. Strict, rigid, or righteous.
[Middle English streit, narrow, a strait, from Old French estreit, tight, narrow, from Latin strictus, past participle of stringere, to draw tight; see streig- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.