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

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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

One does not want to be confined to a cubicle, constrained in stuffy, dark-hued, teetering pumps. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "Vogue Staffers Pick the Most Chic and Comfortable Shoes to Wear to Work This Summer," 31 May 2019 As its own cyber arsenal has grown in strength, the Russian government has cooled on the idea of letting international law constrain it. Simon Shuster, Time, "This KGB Chief Rang the Alarm About Russia-U.S. Cyberwars. No One Listened.," 23 Mar. 2018 The freedom that players enjoy is necessarily constrained, says Katarina Kuai of NRGI. The Economist, "Fighting the resource curse through online gaming," 28 June 2018 The change in tone may have reflected Trump's position and foreign critics' hopes that he could be constrained by the U.S. political system. Adam Taylor, Washington Post, "Foreign critics of Trump’s travel ban face a new foe: The Supreme Court," 27 June 2018 College officials say they are constrained by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or Ferpa, a federal law governing student privacy, in reaching out to parents. New York Times, "His College Knew of His Despair. His Parents Didn’t, Until It Was Too Late.," 12 May 2018 The process is determined by the location of the landing site and constrained by physics. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "Why Mars InSight Will Be a Mission of Firsts," 23 Nov. 2018 The ones who are constraining your language are the ones that aren’t gonna be as successful. Eric Johnson, Recode, "What’s next for virtual assistants like Alexa? Maybe buying stuff for you automatically.," 24 Dec. 2018 Companies targeted by leveraged buyouts are often further constrained. The New York Times, cleveland.com, "Claire's, the teen jewelry chain, files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy," 19 Mar. 2018

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.

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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

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Statistics for constrain

Last Updated

13 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for constrain

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

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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.

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Comments on constrain

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