Grammar and Punctuation |
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Straight, Strait

Words like straitjacket and strait-laced are frequently misspelled using straight, which is incorrect, but understandable. Wouldn't a "straightjacket" be just the thing to straighten you up and straighten you out? Doesn't "straight-laced" aptly describe a person of refinement (the lace part) who lives the "straight life"? This is why some authorities accept straight-laced as an alternative spelling. But a strait is a narrow channel, and it is that sense of "confinement with little room to maneuver" that generated these terms.

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