con·​strict kən-ˈstrikt How to pronounce constrict (audio)
constricted; constricting; constricts

transitive verb

: to make narrow or draw together
Smoking constricts blood vessels.
: compress, squeeze
constrict a nerve
These shoes are too small and they constrict my feet.
: 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.
constrictive adjective

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.

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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web Free of underwires that poke and structured cups that constrict, this seamless bra is an extremely comfortable option, according to thousands of shoppers. Claire Harmeyer, Peoplemag, 25 Sep. 2023 The One is a clean and simple lifestyle sneaker with a mesh upper that’s soft, flexible, and not constricting. Hannah Dylan Pasternak, SELF, 15 Aug. 2023 By constricting blood vessels, Dr. King says cold therapy can limit the accumulation of excess fluid in tissues. Sophie Dweck, Town & Country, 30 Aug. 2023 This causes your blood vessels to constrict and the heart rate to rise, raising your blood pressure. Erica Sweeney, Men's Health, 24 Aug. 2023 Feeling increasingly constricted by Hawkins, Robertson and the other Hawks defected in early 1964. Chris Morris, Variety, 9 Aug. 2023 That’s because drinking coffee stimulates the release of gastrin, a hormone that causes the intestines to constrict and relax, Crespin said. Andrea Michelson, Verywell Health, 17 July 2023 When the Irish author and her husband move to a small railway cottage in the Irish countryside, their lives become immediately constricted with the advent of Covid and lockdown. Lorraine Berry, Los Angeles Times, 4 Aug. 2023 The report detailed a chaotic scene in which fans, security personnel, and camera operators tried to relay the danger early in the show as the crowd constricted and festivalgoers were crushed — but the concert went on for an hour before finally concluding. Ethan Millman, Rolling Stone, 3 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'constrict.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin constrictus, past participle of constringere — see constrain

First Known Use

1732, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of constrict was in 1732

Dictionary Entries Near constrict

Cite this Entry

“Constrict.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


con·​strict kən-ˈstrikt How to pronounce constrict (audio)
: to make or become narrower or smaller by drawing together : squeeze, tighten
constrictive adjective

Medical Definition


transitive verb
con·​strict kən-ˈstrikt How to pronounce constrict (audio)
: to make narrow or draw together
constrict the pupil of the eye
: to subject (as a body part) to compression
constrict a nerve
constrictive adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on constrict

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!