Also found in: Thesaurus, Legal, Financial, Idioms, Encyclopedia.


intr.v. strayed, stray·ing, strays
a. To move away from a group, deviate from a course, or escape from established limits: strayed away from the tour group to look at some sculptures.
b. To move without a destination or purpose; wander: cows that strayed across the road toward the river. See Synonyms at wander.
2. To be directed without apparent purpose; look in an idle or casual manner: The driver's eyes strayed from the road toward the fields.
3. To follow a winding or erratic course: "White mists began to rise ... on the surface of the river and stray about the roots of the trees upon its borders" (J.R.R. Tolkien).
4. To act contrary to moral or proper behavior, especially in being sexually unfaithful: "He strayed from his marriage and fathered a son with a village woman" (Adam Hochschild).
5. To become diverted, as from a subject or train of thought: strayed from our original purpose. See Synonyms at swerve.
One that has strayed, especially a domestic animal wandering about.
1. Straying or having strayed; wandering or lost: stray cats and dogs.
2. Scattered or separate: a few stray crumbs.

[Middle English straien, from Old French estraier, from estree, highway, from Latin strāta; see street.]

stray′er n.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Adj.1.straying - unable to find your way; "found the straying sheep"
lost - no longer in your possession or control; unable to be found or recovered; "a lost child"; "lost friends"; "his lost book"; "lost opportunities"
References in classic literature ?
Lena's candid eyes, that always looked a little sleepy under their long lashes, kept straying about the cheerful rooms with naive admiration.
It is no indication, however, of a lack of cheerfulness in the writer's mind: for he was happier while straying through the gloom of these sunless fantasies than at any time since he had quitted the Old Manse.
When once more alone, I reviewed the information I had got; looked into my heart, examined its thoughts and feelings, and endeavoured to bring back with a strict hand such as had been straying through imagination's boundless and trackless waste, into the safe fold of common sense.
His head and throat were bare, and, as he spoke with a helpless look straying all around, he took his coat off, and let it drop on the floor.
Among the great beams, bulks, and ringbolts of the ship, and the emigrant-berths, and chests, and bundles, and barrels, and heaps of miscellaneous baggage -'lighted up, here and there, by dangling lanterns; and elsewhere by the yellow daylight straying down a windsail or a hatchway - were crowded groups of people, making new friendships, taking leave of one another, talking, laughing, crying, eating and drinking; some, already settled down into the possession of their few feet of space, with their little households arranged, and tiny children established on stools, or in dwarf elbow-chairs; others, despairing of a resting-place, and wandering disconsolately.