Old English strican "pass over lightly, stroke, smooth, rub," also "go, proceed" (past tense strac, past participle stricen), from Proto-Germanic *strik- (cf. Old Norse strykva "to stroke," Old Frisian strika, Middle Dutch streken, Dutch strijken "to smooth, stroke, rub," Old High German strihhan, German streichen), from PIE root *str(e)ig- "to stroke, rub, press" (see strigil).
Related to streak and stroke, and perhaps influenced in sense development by cognate Old Norse striuka. Sense of "to deal a blow" developed by early 14c.; meaning "to collide" is from mid-14c.; that of "to hit with a missile" is from late 14c. Meaning "to cancel or expunge" (as with the stroke of a pen) is attested from late 14c. An older sense is preserved in strike for "go toward."