con·​straint | \ kən-ˈstrānt How to pronounce constraint (audio) \

Definition of constraint

1a : the act of constraining
b : the state of being checked, restricted, or compelled to avoid or perform some action … the constraint and monotony of a monastic life …— Matthew Arnold a life of invalidism and constraint
c : a constraining condition, agency, or force : check put legal constraints on the board's activities Budget constraints have forced me to revise my travel plans.
2a : repression of one's own feelings, behavior, or actions emotional constraint
b : a sense of being constrained : embarrassment " … a constraint between us as if we were strangers … "— John P. Marquand

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Examples of constraint in a Sentence

Lack of funding has been a major constraint on the building's design. They demand freedom from constraint. They refuse to work under constraint any longer.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The metal is the latest commodity lifted by an increasingly volatile market as investors place bets tied to future technology and expected supply constraints, the WSJ’s Amrith Ramkumar and Joe Wallace report. Jennifer Smith, WSJ, "Today’s Logistics Report: Setting Robot Ship Rules; Bringing in the Groceries; Trading Australian Gas," 7 June 2019 Government planners had struggled over what to do with the national historic landmark, grappling with budget constraints, the ravages of time and the prickly opinions of the tiny nearby community of McCarthy. Tom Kizzia, Anchorage Daily News, "Amid the ruins of the Kennecott mine, a quiet new look at a unique slice of history," 26 June 2018 Moving crude to the U.S. was an attractive prospect last fall, when heavy crude was selling locally in Canada for more than $50 a barrel below U.S. benchmark prices because of the pipeline constraints. Rebecca Elliott, WSJ, "Canada Can’t Capitalize on Crude Shortfall Created by Venezuela Sanctions," 14 Feb. 2019 The charges against Bartlett were ultimately dismissed because of budgetary constraints. Jessica Gresko, The Seattle Times, "Justices weigh free-speech case involving Alaska’s ‘Arctic Man’ event," 26 Nov. 2018 So, this year — after the likes of core players Karl Alzner, Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams exited because of salary cap constraints — lowered expectations led to a different feeling going into the postseason. Josh Land,, "First Stanley Cup means long-suffering Capitals fans need not suffer any longer," 8 June 2018 Of course no reasonable person believes that all constraints on screen time are bad, especially for children. Laura Turner, Glamour, "The Big Problem With the New Screen Time Guidelines for Kids," 26 Apr. 2019 The fate of workers will depend on certain employer constraints, labor laws and regulations, and whether there’s a good enough system in place to transition people into new roles or industries. Nick Statt, The Verge, "The AI boom is happening all over the world, and it’s accelerating quickly," 12 Dec. 2018 Our model captures critical performance characteristics – milk quality and productivity – as well as relevant constraints, such as individual health and reproductive status. Smithsonian, "This Connecticut Farm Is Milking Cows for Data," 11 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'constraint.' 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 constraint

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for constraint

Middle English, from Middle French constrainte, from constraindre — see constrain

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Statistics for constraint

Last Updated

14 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for constraint

The first known use of constraint was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for constraint



English Language Learners Definition of constraint

: something that limits or restricts someone or something
: control that limits or restricts someone's actions or behavior


con·​straint | \ kən-ˈstrānt How to pronounce constraint (audio) \

Kids Definition of constraint

1 : control that limits or restricts The committee refused to act under constraint.
2 : something that limits or restricts money constraints

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Comments on constraint

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