strait / strāt/ • n. 1. (also straits) a narrow passage of water connecting two seas or two large areas of water: [in place names] the Strait of Gibraltar. 2. (straits) used in reference to a situation characterized by a specified degree of trouble or difficulty: the economy is in dire straits a crippling disease could leave anyone in serious financial straits.• adj. archaic (of a place) of limited spatial capacity; narrow or cramped: the road was so strait that a handful of men might have defended it. ∎ close, strict, or rigorous: my captivity was strait as ever.DERIVATIVES: strait·ly adv.strait·ness n.ORIGIN: Middle English: shortening of Old French estreit ‘tight, narrow,’ from Latin strictus ‘drawn tight’ (see strict).