Etymology
Advertisement
straw (n.)

Old English streaw (rare) "stems or stalks of certain species of grains," apparently literally "that which is scattered or strewn," related to streowian (see strew), from Proto-Germanic *straw- "that which is scattered" (source also of Old Norse stra, Danish straa, Swedish strå, Old Saxon stro, Old Frisian stre, Old Dutch, Old High German stro, Dutch stroo, German Stroh "straw"), from PIE root *stere- "to spread." The notion perhaps is of dried grain stalks strewn on a floor as carpeting or bedding.

As a type of what is trifling or unimportant, attested from late 13c. Meaning "hollow tube through which a drink is sucked" is recorded from 1851. To draw straws as a means of deciding something is recorded from 1779 (the custom probably is older). As an adjective, "made of straw," mid-15c.; hence "false, sham." Straw poll is from 1932; earlier straw vote (1866). Straw hat first attested mid-15c. To clutch (or grasp or catch) at straws (1748) is what a drowning man proverbially would do. The last straw (1836 apart from the full phrase) is from the proverbial image: "it is the last straw that breaks the camel's back" (or, less often, the mare's, the horse's, or the elephant's), an image in use in English by 1755.

Let it not, however, be inferred that taxation cannot be pushed too far : it is, as the Oriental proverb says, the last straw that overloads the camel ; a small addition, if ill-timed, may overturn the whole. [The Scots Magazine, April 1799]
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
straw man (n.)

1590s, "doll or scarecrow made of bound straw," from straw (n.) + man (n.). Figuratively, in debates, by 1896, from man of straw "an easily refuted imaginary opponent in an argument," which is recorded from 1620s.

Related entries & more 
jackstraw (n.)
1590s, "effigy of a man made of straw," from Jack + straw (n.); hence "man without substance or means." It also was a name of one of the leaders of the Peasants' Revolt of 1381. As the name of a game played with straw or strips, from 1801. Related: Jackstraws.
Related entries & more 
strawberry (n.)
Old English streawberige, streaberie; see straw + berry. There is no corresponding compound in other Germanic languages; the reason for the name is uncertain, but perhaps it is in reference to the tiny chaff-like external seeds which cover the fruit. A cognate Old English name was eorðberge "earth-berry" (compare Modern German Erdbeere). As a color adjective from 1670s. Strawberry blonde is attested from 1884. Strawberry mark (1847) so called for its resemblance.
Related entries & more 
*stere- 
*sterə-, also *ster-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to spread."

It forms all or part of: consternate; consternation; construct; construction; destroy; destruction; industry; instruct; instruction; instrument; obstruct; obstruction; perestroika; prostrate; sternum; sternocleidomastoid; strain (n.2) "race, stock, line;" stratagem; strategy; strath; strato-; stratocracy; stratography; stratosphere; stratum; stratus; straw; stray; street; strew; stroma; structure; substrate; substratum; substructure.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit strnoti "strews, throws down;" Avestan star- "to spread out, stretch out;" Greek stronymi "strew," stroma "bedding, mattress," sternon "breast, breastbone;" Latin sternere "to stretch, extend;" Old Church Slavonic stira, streti "spread," strana "area, region, country;" Russian stroji "order;" Gothic straujan, Old High German strouwen, Old English streowian "to sprinkle, strew;" Old English streon "strain," streaw "straw, that which is scattered;" Old High German stirna "forehead," strala "arrow, lightning bolt;" Old Irish fo-sernaim "spread out," srath "a wide river valley;" Welsh srat "plain."
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
pallet (n.1)

"mattress," late 14c., paillet "bed or mattress of straw; small, simple bed," from Anglo-French paillete "straw, bundle of straw," Old French paillet "chaff, bundle of straw," from paille "straw" (12c.), from Latin palea "chaff," perhaps from PIE *pelh- "chaff," source also of Sanskrit palavah "chaff, husk," Old Church Slavonic plevy, Russian polova "chaff," Lithuanian pelūs "chaff."

Related entries & more 
festucine (adj.)
"straw-colored," 1640s, from Latin festuca "straw" (see fescue).
Related entries & more 
fescue (n.)

1510s, "teacher's pointer," alteration of festu "piece of straw, twig" (late 14c.), from Old French festu "straw; object of little value" (12c., Modern French fétu), from Vulgar Latin *festucum, from Latin festuca "straw, stalk, rod," probably related to ferula "reed, whip, rod" (see ferule). Sense of "pasture, lawn grass" is first recorded 1762. Wyclif (1382) has festu in Matthew vii.3 for the "mote" in the eye. In Old French rompre le festu was to symbolically break a straw to signify the breaking of a bond.

Related entries & more 
etiolate (v.)
"turn (a plant) white by growing it in darkness," 1791, from French étiolé, past participle of étioler "to blanch" (17c.), perhaps literally "to become like straw," from Norman dialect étule "a stalk," Old French esteule "straw, field of stubble," from Latin stipula "straw" (see stipule). Related: Etiolated.
Related entries & more 
zori (n.)
1823, from Japanese zori, from so "grass, (rice) straw" + ri "footwear, sole."
Related entries & more