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

The rise of private markets where companies are free from the constraints of quarterly reporting is already reshaping the makeup of the public stock market. Ben Eisen, WSJ, "Stock Market Is Taking Cues From the Private Market," 20 Aug. 2018 Or perhaps Pfeiffer, a regular CNN commentator, is relishing his liberation from the constraints of cable television. John Diaz,, "‘Yes We (Still) Can,’ by Dan Pfeiffer," 15 June 2018 Her images capture the dream-like qualities of the American West, a place where time and space are freed from constraints. Lydia Horne, WIRED, "Can You Spot the Hidden Images in These Psychedelic Landscapes?," 7 June 2018 Now all Apple stores and service providers can order the replacement batteries and get them without delays from supply constraints, though shipping could still take time. Shannon Liao, The Verge, "Apple’s iPhone replacement batteries are reportedly in stock without delays," 9 May 2018 Location: Portland, Oregon Price: $825,000 Floating homes are becoming more popular not only for their relative affordability, but also for their adaptability, addressing issues of land space constraints and rising sea levels. Lauren Ro, Curbed, "Indoor-outdoor floating home wants $825K in Portland," 7 June 2018 Putting a new chip on a circuit board, as Graphcore does, that is added into an existing system limits specialisation and optimisation because of constraints in power, cooling and communication, says Mr Feldman. The Economist, "Artificial intelligence is awakening the chip industry’s animal spirits," 7 June 2018 Higher rates of recycling and a shift to less-cobalt intensive batteries can alleviate, but won’t remove, risks of supply constraints, according to BNEF. David Stringer,, "Threat of Cobalt Supply Shock Is Top Risk for Electric Vehicles," 21 May 2018 Despite all of the constraints, Wenger made his target every year and kept Arsenal in Europe., "FanView: Renaming the Emirates Stadium Is the Ideal Tribute to the Man Who Made it All Possible," 30 Apr. 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

15 Nov 2018

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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).


something that serves to warn or remind

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