A stray dog wanders the streets.
A stray kitten in Manila, Philippines.


  • enPR: strā, IPA(key): /stɹeɪ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -eɪ

Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English stray, strey, from Anglo-Norman estray, stray, Old French estrai, from the verb (see below).


stray (plural strays)

  1. Any domestic animal that has no enclosure, or its proper place and company, and wanders at large, or is lost; an estray.
  2. (figurative) One who is lost, either literally or metaphorically.
  3. The act of wandering or going astray.
  4. (historical) An area of common land or place administered for the use of general domestic animals, i.e. "the stray"
Related termsEdit

Etymology 2Edit

From Middle English strayen, partly from Old French estraier, from Vulgar Latin via strata[1], and partly from Middle English strien, streyen, streyȝen (to spread, scatter), from Old English strēġan (to strew).


stray (third-person singular simple present strays, present participle straying, simple past and past participle strayed)

  1. (intransitive) To wander, as from a direct course; to deviate, or go out of the way.
  2. (intransitive) To wander from one's limits; to rove or roam at large; to go astray.
  3. (intransitive, figurative) To wander from the path of duty or rectitude; to err.
  4. (transitive) To cause to stray.

Etymology 3Edit

From Middle English stray, from the noun (see above).


stray (not comparable)

  1. Having gone astray; strayed; wandering
    The alley is full of stray cats rummaging through the garbage.
    • 2017 April 6, Samira Shackle, “On the frontline with Karachi’s ambulance drivers”, in the Guardian[1]:
      The organisation fills many gaps left by the state, operating a dizzying array of services, including homes for victims of domestic violence, food banks and a shelter for stray animals.
  2. In the wrong place; misplaced.
    a stray comma
Derived termsEdit


  1. ^ stray in Online Etymology Dictionary