Middle English, from Old English strīcan to stroke, go; akin to Old High German strīhhan to stroke, Latin stringere to touch lightly, striga, stria furrow


  • 1: to take a course : go <struck off through the brush>
  • 2a : to aim and usually deliver a blow, stroke, or thrust (as with the hand, a weapon, or a tool)
b : to arrive with detrimental effect <disaster struck>
c : to attempt to undermine or harm something as if by a blow <struck at…cherished notions — R. P. Warren>
  • 3: to come into contact forcefully <two ships struck in mid channel>
  • 4: to delete something
  • 5: to lower a flag usually in surrender
  • 6a : to become indicated by a clock, bell, or chime <the hour had just struck>
b : to make known the time by sounding <the clock struck as they entered
b : to make a military attack
  • 9: to become ignited <the match struck>
  • 10: to discover something <struck on a new plan of attack>
  • 11a : to pull on a fishing rod in order to set the hook
b of a fish : to seize the bait
  • 12: dart, shoot
  • 13a of a plant cutting : to take root
b of a seed : germinate
  • 14: to make an impression
  • 15: to stop work in order to force an employer to comply with demands
  • 16: to make a beginning <the need to strike vigorously for success>
  • 17: to thrust oneself forward <he struck into the midst of the argument>
  • 18: to work diligently : strive


Strike action, also called labor strike, on strike, greve (of French: grève), or simply strike, is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Strikes became important during the Industrial Revolution, when mass labor became important in factories and mines. In most countries, strike actions were quickly made illegal, as factory owners had far more political power than workers. Most western countries partially legalized striking in the late 19th or early 20th centuries.

Strikes are sometimes used to pressure governments to change policies. Occasionally, strikes destabilize the rule of a particular political party or ruler; in such cases, strikes are often part of a broader social movement taking the form of a campaign of civil resistance. A notable example is the 1980 Gdańsk Shipyard strike led by Lech Wałęsa. This strike was significant in the long campaign of civil resistance for political change in Poland, and was an important mobilized effort that contributed to the fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of communist party rule in eastern Europe.