- Now Rare
- to make strait or narrow
- to hem in closely
- to restrict or confine in scope, range, etc.; hamper
- to bring into difficulties; cause to be in distress or want: usually in the phrase in straitened circumstances, lacking sufficient money
transitive verbstrait·ened, strait·en·ing, strait·ens
- To put or bring into difficulties or distress, especially financial hardship.
- Archaic a. To make narrow.b. To enclose in a limited area; confine.c. To restrict in latitude or scope.
(third-person singular simple present straitens, present participle straitening, simple past and past participle straitened)
- Common misspelling of straighten.
- To make strait; to narrow or confine to a smaller space.
- The channel straitened the river through the town, made it flow faster, and caused more flooding upstream.
- To restrict or diminish, especially financially.
- Rising costs put those on fixed incomes in straitened circumstances.
To "straighten the river channel" means to remove the bends and curves, but not necessarily to narrow it. To "straiten the river channel" means to make it narrow, but not necessarily to make it straight. The same construction project could have both effects.
The difference may be seen in the nautical term "strait", for example Bass Strait (off the south coast of Victoria, Australia), which is a narrow stretch of sea. It is also used in the expression "to be in dire straits", as in perilously tight circumstances.