con·straint | \ kən-ˈstrānt \

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

Blocker led a 2016 coalition that opposed the school system’s decision to stop covering fees for Advanced Placement tests because of budget constraints. Rachel Chason, Washington Post, "Meet the 18 candidates vying for four school board seats in Prince George’s County," 14 June 2018 Budget constraints would appear to be a problem, with rumours towards the end of last month suggesting that the summer transfer kitty will total just £50m unless players are sold., "Arsenal 'Reluctant' to Match Wenger's £8.5m Salary for Successor As Club Explores Cheaper Options," 2 May 2018 To qualify for a grant, high schools were required to have a theater program or champion of theater arts on the teaching staff, and a program endangered due to budget constraints. Bill Keveney, USA TODAY, "Exclusive: These 50 high schools are getting a 'Rise' from NBC theater grants," 5 Mar. 2018 Due to budget constraints, the Mars program likely move at a snail's pace, according to available flight manifests. Anatoly Zak, Popular Mechanics, "This Is NASA's Plan For Humanity's Return to the Moon, and Beyond," 8 Dec. 2016 Wells Fargo, operating under regulatory constraints after a series of scandals, reported a decline in profits. Emily Flitter, New York Times, "Bank Earnings Climb in Growing Economy, but Lending Doesn’t Keep Pace," 13 July 2018 Budget constraints forced her and Webb to use cheap materials for the mosaic’s blue skies and the images of compass points, Aarti said. Sven Berg, The Seattle Times, "Heat, water and trucks are destroying a Boise mosaic," 9 July 2018 New York appears poised to become the latest state to adopt a drug take-back law, a slow-but-steady notion moving across the country as local governments grapple with budget constraints caused by unwanted or unused medicines and the opioid crisis. Ed Silverman, STAT, "New York State may force drug makers to pay for drug take-back programs," 26 June 2018 At an event in Detroit on Thursday, Carson said the proposal is the result of budget constraints. NBC News, "HUD proposal to raise rents on poor could increase homelessness, advocates say," 7 June 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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Last Updated

20 Sep 2018

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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 \

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

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


the setting in which something occurs

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