(archaic) Narrow; restricted as to space or room; close.
* 1866 , , Aholibah , lines 53-55
- too strait and low our cottage doors
- Sweet oil was poured out on thy head
- And ran down like cool rain between
* 1900 , , To One in Bedlam , lines 3-5
- The strait close locks it melted in.
- Those scentless wisps of straw, that miserably line
- His strait , caged universe, whereat the dull world stares,
(archaic) Righteous, strict.
- Pedant and pitiful.
* 1597 , , IV. iii. 79:
- to follow the strait and narrow
* Bible, Acts xxvi. 5 (Rev. Ver.)
- some certain edicts and some strait decrees
(obsolete) Tight; close; tight-fitting.
* 1613 , , III. vi. 86:
- the straitest sect of our religion
(obsolete) Close; intimate; near; familiar.
* Sir Philip Sidney
- Is not this piece too strait ? / No, no, 'tis well.
(obsolete) Difficult; distressful; straited.
- a strait degree of favour
(obsolete) Parsimonious; niggardly; mean.
* 1596 , , V. vii. 42:
- to make your strait' circumstances yet ' straiter
- I beg cold comfort, and you are so strait , / And so ingrateful, you deny me that.
The adjective is often confused with straight.
(geography) A narrow channel of water connecting two larger bodies of water.
* De Foe
- The Strait of Gibraltar
A narrow pass or passage.
- We steered directly through a large outlet which they call a strait , though it be fifteen miles broad.
* 1602 , , III. iii. 154:
- He brought him through a darksome narrow strait / To a broad gate all built of beaten gold.
A neck of land; an isthmus.
- For honour travels in a strait so narrow / Where one but goes abreast.
A difficult position (often used in plural).
- a dark strait of barren land
- to be in dire straits
- Let no man, who owns a Providence, grow desperate under any calamity or strait whatsoever.
- Ulysses made use of the pretense of natural infirmity to conceal the straits he was in at that time in his thoughts.
* dire straits
(obsolete) To put to difficulties.
(obsolete) Strictly; rigorously.
* 1593 , , III. ii. 20:
- Proceed no straiter 'gainst our uncle Gloucester
To make strait; to narrow or confine to a smaller space.
(senseid) To restrict or diminish, especially financially.
* 1662 , , Book II, A Collection of Several Philosophical Writings of Dr. Henry More, p. 67:
- The channel straitened the river through the town, made it flow faster, and caused more flooding upstream.
- "And the reason why Birds'' are ''Oviparous'' and ''lay Eggs , but do not bring forth their yong alive, is, because there might be more plenty of them also, and that neither the Birds of prey, the Serpent nor the Fowler, should streighten their generations too much."
- Rising costs put those on fixed incomes in straitened circumstances.
To "straighten the river channel" means to remove the bends and curves, but not necessarily to narrow it. To "straiten the river channel" means to make it narrow, but not necessarily to make it straight. The same construction project could have both effects.
The difference may be seen in the nautical term "strait", for example Bass Strait (off the south coast of Victoria, Australia), which is a narrow stretch of sea. It is also used in the expression "to be in dire straits", as in perilously tight circumstances.