con·​strict | \kən-ˈstrikt \
constricted; constricting; constricts

Definition of constrict 

transitive verb

1a : 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

intransitive verb

: to become constricted The drug causes the blood vessels to constrict.

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Other Words from constrict

constrictive \ kən-​ˈstrik-​tiv \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

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.

Examples of constrict in a Sentence

The drug is used to constrict blood vessels. The declining economy has constricted job opportunities. a life constricted by poverty and disease He felt constricted by their notions of what was proper.
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Recent Examples on the Web

In Philadelphia, the route the duck boats traveled on the Delaware River was constricted after a shipping barge collided with a Ride the Ducks boat in 2010, killing two tourists. Eric Adler, The Seattle Times, "Congress didn’t act after 1999 duck-boat tragedy. Now it must, experts say.," 30 July 2018 The MRIs revealed that the ties constricted veins in the men's necks, reports New Scientist magazine. Lisa Gutierrez, kansascity, "Hate wearing a tie to work? Study shows peril of 'socially desirable strangulation'," 9 July 2018 The first week felt constricting at first, then strangely freeing. William Wan,, "I had a bit of an app addiction. Until these apps saved me.," 5 July 2018 Israel then imposed its blockade of the enclave, constricting trade and the movement of people. NBC News, "Israeli border communities fearful of Palestinian protests and threats of fire," 28 June 2018 Other opponents worry that additional investigations will unfairly constrict American companies and actually help foreign countries, and say that existing export control laws are sufficient to quell national security concerns. New York Times, "What Would an Expanded Foreign Investment Committee Do?," 27 June 2018 Wolff measured the amplitude of pulsations of blood vessels in the scalp during migraine attacks and after the administration of a drug that constricted the vessels. R. Allan Purdy, Scientific American, "Can Anything Stop My Migraine?," 1 May 2017 Something that’s constricted your movement might ease. Claire Comstock-gay, The Cut, "Madame Clairevoyant: Horoscopes for the Week of May 21," 21 May 2018 Critics already have said the board's plan, which has been in the works for two years, will hurt the economy of the San Joaquin Valley in particular by constricting water for irrigation. Dale Kasler, sacbee, "California has a new plan for allocating its water, and it means less for farmers," 6 July 2018

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.

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First Known Use of constrict

1732, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for constrict

Latin constrictus, past participle of constringere — see constrain

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Statistics for constrict

Last Updated

16 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for constrict

The first known use of constrict was in 1732

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More Definitions for constrict



English Language Learners Definition of constrict

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

: to become narrower, smaller, or tighter

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


con·​strict | \kən-ˈstrikt \
constricted; constricting

Kids Definition of constrict

: 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


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

Other Words from constrict

constrictive \ -​ˈstrik-​tiv \ adjective

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Comments on constrict

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


by force of circumstances

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