Meaning of “stray” in the English Dictionary

"stray" in British English

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strayverb [ I ]

uk /streɪ/ us /streɪ/

to travel along a route that was not originally intended, or to move outside a limited area:

A herd of cattle had strayed into the road.
They got lost when they strayed too far from the path.
The ship strayed off course during the storm.

to start thinking or talking about a different subject from the one you should be giving attention to:

I think we've strayed too far from our original plan.
Sorry - I've strayed from the subject.

straynoun [ C ]

uk /streɪ/ us /streɪ/

a pet that no longer has a home or cannot find its home:

a stray dog
"Who owns that cat?" "I don't know. I think it must be a stray."

strayadjective [ before noun ]

uk /streɪ/ us /streɪ/

(Definition of “stray” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"stray" in American English

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strayverb [ I ]

us /streɪ/

stray verb [ I ] (MOVE AWAY)

to move away from a place where you should be or from a direction in which you should go:

The children were told to stay together and not to stray.
The plane disappeared after straying several hundred miles off course.

strayadjective [ not gradable ]

us /streɪ/

stray adjective [ not gradable ] (LOST)

(of an animal) having no home, or lost:

Eric and Lise rescued the stray cat and named her Pashmina.

Stray also means happening by chance and lacking direction:

It was just a stray thought I had while washing the dishes.

straynoun [ C ]

us /streɪ/

stray noun [ C ] (LOST ANIMAL)

an animal that is lost or has no home:

We have given a home to a number of strays.

(Definition of “stray” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)