To "stray" is to go in the wrong direction, make a mistake, or get lost:

  • Rena strayed from her school group and got lost inside the museum.
  • The man’s car strayed into another lane and almost caused an accident.
  • A rocket fired from the launchpad strayed off course and never reached its destination.
  • If you stray too far off the path in these woods, you might not find your way back home.
  • Cows will stray into a neighboring pasture if there isn’t a fence to keep them contained.

You can also use the word "stray" to describe a person or a thing that is lost:

  • A stray cat wandered into our backyard looking for food. (stray cat = a lost cat or one that doesn’t have a home)
  • A stray rocket fired at a government building veered off course and hit some homes instead.
  • This building is a shelter for stray, adolescent teens.

cat Is this cat a stray or does it belong to someone?

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This page was first published on February 17, 2012.