constrain

verb
con·​strain | \ kən-ˈstrān How to pronounce constrain (audio) \
constrained; constraining; constrains

Definition of constrain

transitive verb

1a : to force by imposed stricture, restriction, or limitation Teenagers often feel constrained by rules. an artist constrained by a client's requirements
b : to restrict the motion of (a mechanical body) to a particular mode
2 : compress also : to clasp tightly
3 : to secure by or as if by bonds : confine constrained to a dungeon broadly : limit
4 : to force or produce in an unnatural or strained manner a constrained smile
5 : to hold back by or as if by force " … constraining my mind not to wander from the task."— Charles Dickens

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from constrain

constrainedly \ kən-​ˈstrā-​nəd-​lē How to pronounce constrainedly (audio) , -​ˈstrānd-​lē \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for constrain

force, compel, coerce, constrain, oblige mean to make someone or something yield. force is the general term and implies the overcoming of resistance by the exertion of strength, power, or duress. forced to flee for their lives compel typically suggests overcoming of resistance or unwillingness by an irresistible force. compelled to admit my mistake coerce suggests overcoming resistance or unwillingness by actual or threatened violence or pressure. coerced into signing over the rights constrain suggests the effect of a force or circumstance that limits freedom of action or choice. constrained by conscience oblige implies the constraint of necessity, law, or duty. felt obliged to go

Examples of constrain in a Sentence

constrained by conscience to tell only the truth constrained his anger at the needless interruption

Recent Examples on the Web

In part because few real-world problems are as constrained as the games on which DeepMind has focused, DeepMind has yet to find any large-scale commercial application of deep reinforcement learning. Gary Marcus, WIRED, "DeepMind's Losses and the Future of Artificial Intelligence," 14 Aug. 2019 China, in short, wants to keep growth stable, stand up to America in the trade war and constrain excesses in the housing market. The Economist, "The trade war escalates, and the fog of war descends," 8 Aug. 2019 Researchers believe this trehalose molecule not only replaces water, but also in some cases can physically constrain the critter's remaining water molecules, keeping them from rapidly expanding when faced with hot and cold temperatures. Daisy Hernandez, Popular Mechanics, "Tardigrades Have Landed on the Moon. Here's What Their Survival Could Mean for Humanity.," 7 Aug. 2019 Instead, negotiators agreed to $77 billion in accounting changes that likely won’t constrain any future spending. Erica Werner, The Denver Post, "Trump backs two-year budget deal that boosts spending, suspends debt limit," 22 July 2019 While natural selection is an important force in evolution, the speakers at the meeting presented evidence for how it could be constrained, or biased in a particular direction. Quanta Magazine, "Scientists Seek to Update Evolution," 22 Nov. 2016 In both cases, the goal is to radically constrain the terms of the debate: Is Trump awesomely amazing, or amazingly awesome? Andrew Marantz, The New Yorker, "Trump’s Very Big, Very Important White House Social-Media Summit," 11 July 2019 San Antonio officials have said the law could constrain the city’s finances, potentially prompting a downgrade in its credit rating, which will wind up costing taxpayers. Joshua Fechter, ExpressNews.com, "Property values near the Pearl have exploded in the past five years," 22 June 2019 Officials say they are constrained by regulatory requirements, bureaucracy, funding, and the need for more research. Laura Mccrystal, https://www.inquirer.com, "Setting clean water standards is the EPA’s job. Pa. and other states are doing it instead.," 6 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'constrain.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of constrain

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for constrain

Middle English, from Anglo-French constraindre, from Latin constringere to constrict, constrain, from com- + stringere to draw tight — more at strain

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about constrain

Statistics for constrain

Last Updated

22 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for constrain

The first known use of constrain was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for constrain

constrain

verb

English Language Learners Definition of constrain

: to limit or restrict (something or someone)
formal : to use pressure to force (someone) to do something

constrain

verb
con·​strain | \ kən-ˈstrān How to pronounce constrain (audio) \
constrained; constraining

Kids Definition of constrain

1 : compel sense 1, force He was constrained to retire because of ill health.
2 : to restrict or limit She felt the rules constrained her creativity.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on constrain

What made you want to look up constrain? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a haphazard or makeshift solution

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!