As I neared my house, the memory of the previous night at the shop came flooding back to the forefront of my mind. Did I really see Olivia in my mom’s shop? How was that possible?

I contemplated telling my mother about what I had seen in case I needed help or something. What if I started seeing other people, like my dad? I was sure that would make me go crazy for real, and I needed someone there to support me when they put on the straight jacket.

When I entered the house, my mom was already preparing lunch. “I’m not hungry,” I told her.

This text is from the book Fire in Frost.

I could not understand the meaning of straight jacket.

  • 5
    Try a dictionary search for 'straightjacket'.
    – John Feltz
    Jul 17, 2018 at 11:14
  • 6
    I assuming they meant Strait Jacket
    – Draken
    Jul 17, 2018 at 11:18
  • 3
    I always thought it was a 'strait' (narrow, tight) jacket. Dickens mentions a 'strait-waistcoat'. Jul 17, 2018 at 11:18
  • 3
    Did you try to look it up?
    – Kat
    Jul 17, 2018 at 19:17
  • 2
    It's the same word as strait for a narrow body of water. The only other current usage that comes to mind is strait-laced, which likewise is often written with gh. Jul 17, 2018 at 20:56

1 Answer 1


The traditional spelling is straitjacket. It is a garment that has long sleeves that can be tied securely behind the back, preventing the person wearing the straitjacket from using their hands. It was used to prevent violent, mentally ill patients from injuring themselves or others (from an old word "strait" meaning "restricted, narrow, tight-fitting").

"When they put on the straitjacket" means when people from the mental asylum come to take me to away. Here it is meant figuratively.

  • 2
    Ok, edited. A learner should generally be conservative about spelling innovations such as straight for strait. So I've written "the traditional spelling".
    – James K
    Jul 17, 2018 at 14:02
  • 8
    @JavaLatte: Re "flexibility in the spelling", it might be more accurate to say that a lot of people (and these days, spell-checkers) simply don't know how to spell the word correctly :-)
    – jamesqf
    Jul 17, 2018 at 16:45
  • 3
    No, @jamesqf. That is a different formulation - a more conservative one, perhaps. I strongly deny that it is a more accurate one.
    – Colin Fine
    Jul 17, 2018 at 18:42
  • 2
    @ColinFine Agreed. Language changes over time. That's just the way it is.
    – user428517
    Jul 17, 2018 at 19:12
  • 4
    Having looked at this discussion, I've decided to stick with my current formulation of "the traditional spelling" I think this suggests to a learner which spelling they should use while recognising that there is some variation.
    – James K
    Jul 17, 2018 at 19:16

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