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Straight vs. strait

Straight is primarily (1) an adjective meaning extending in the same direction without curving, and (2) an adverb meaning directly. (It does have some rare noun senses, mainly referring to straight parts of roads and straight lines.)

Strait is almost always a noun. It means a narrow channel joining two larger bodies of water. It also has a few mostly archaic adjective definitions, but these are almost never used.

The phrasal adjective strait-laced uses one of the archaic definitions of strait—namely, tight-fitting, narrow. 

Examples

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Straight

Karen will run straight back to her room.  [Washington Post]

Stratford Constable Nicola Howells said investigations were continuing into the crash that occurred on a straight road. [Stuff.co.nz]

A near straight line around the apple from stem end at the top to calyx end at the bottom. [Yakima Herald-Republic]

Strait

From 1830-1925, there were 137 recorded tragedies where ships were lost at the west entrance of the strait. [Mukilteo Beacon]

An iconic landmark helps protect most low-lying Bay Area communities from a devastating tsunami: the Golden Gate strait. [San Jose Mercury News]

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Comments

  1. Under “These writers use straight well” was the example
    Karen will run straight back to her room and started translating bits of “My Heart Will Go On” and “I Will Always Love You” into Spanish. ==>This may be a good use of straight, but is a poor example of grammar! Perhaps ‘Karen ran straight back to her room and … “

  2. y’all might add that strait is still used in its adjectival form in the word “straitjacket”

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