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To decide something by picking at random from straws of different lengths. The person who pulls the shortest straw is usually the one chosen for something, often an unpleasant task. Let's draw straws to decide who will go first—it's the only fair way to do it.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
Also, draw lots. Decide by a lottery using straws of different lengths. For example, Let's draw straws to see who will write the first draft. The lots version dates from the 1400s, whereas straws dates from the 1800s. Both have replaced the still older draw cuts. Another variant is draw the short straw, meaning to be the one so selected for a particular task.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
If you draw straws, you decide who will do something or have something by choosing pieces of straw or something similar with different lengths. We drew straws for the crash helmets. We drew straws for who had to make dinner, and I lost.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
ˌdraw ˈstraws (for something)decide on somebody to do or have something, by choosing pieces of paper, etc: We drew straws for who went first.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
To decide by a lottery with straws of unequal lengths.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.