verb con·strict \ kən-ˈstrikt \
|Updated on: 13 Jul 2018

Definition of constrict

constricted; constricting; constricts
1 a : to make narrow or draw together
  • Smoking constricts blood vessels.
b : compress, squeeze
  • constrict a nerve
  • These shoes are too small and they constrict my feet.
2 : to stultify, stop, or cause to falter : inhibit
  • The expectation of violence constricts our lives.
  • —Marge Piercy
: to become constricted
  • The drug causes the blood vessels to constrict.


play \kən-ˈstrik-tiv\ adjective

Examples of constrict in a Sentence

  1. The drug is used to constrict blood vessels.

  2. The declining economy has constricted job opportunities.

  3. a life constricted by poverty and disease

  4. He felt constricted by their notions of what was proper.

Recent Examples of constrict from the Web

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

Did You Know?

Arteries constricted by cholesterol slow the flow of blood, just as traffic arteries or highways constricted by accidents slow the flow of traffic. But constriction isn't always physical. Economic growth may be constricted by trade barriers. A narrow, constricted life may be the result of poverty or lack of opportunity. And an actress may feel constricted by a role she played as a child or by her TV character from years ago, which the public refuses to forget.

Origin and Etymology of constrict

Latin constrictus, past participle of constringere — see constrain

Synonym Discussion of constrict

contract, shrink, condense, compress, constrict, deflate mean to decrease in bulk or volume. contract applies to a drawing together of surfaces or particles or a reduction of area or length.
    • caused her muscles to contract
shrink implies a contracting or a loss of material and stresses a falling short of original dimensions.
    • the sweater will shrink when washed
condense implies a reducing of something homogeneous to greater compactness without significant loss of content.
    • condense the essay into a paragraph
compress implies a pressing into a small compass and definite shape usually against resistance.
    • compressed cotton into bales
constrict implies a tightening that reduces diameter.
    • the throat is constricted by a tight collar
deflate implies a contracting by reducing the internal pressure of contained air or gas.
    • deflate the balloon

CONSTRICT Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of constrict for English Language Learners

  • : to make (something) narrower, smaller, or tighter

  • : to become narrower, smaller, or tighter

  • : to prevent or keep (something or someone) from developing freely

CONSTRICT Defined for Kids


verb con·strict \ kən-ˈstrikt \

Definition of constrict for Students

constricted; constricting
: to make narrower, smaller, or tighter by drawing together : squeeze
  • The coldness inside of him had moved upward into his throat constricting it.
  • —Katherine Paterson, Bridge to Terabithia

Medical Dictionary


transitive verb con·strict \ kən-ˈstrikt \

medical Definition of constrict

1 : to make narrow or draw together
  • constrict the pupil of the eye
2 : to subject (as a body part) to compression
  • constrict a nerve


play \-ˈstrik-tiv\ adjective

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