\ˈdrān \

Definition of drain 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 obsolete : filter

2a : to draw off (liquid) gradually or completely drained all the water out of the pool

b : to cause the gradual disappearance of drain the region's wealth

c : to exhaust (see exhaust entry 1 sense 1b) physically or emotionally feeling drained at the end of a long workday

3a : to make gradually dry drain a swamp

b : to carry away the surface water of the river that drains the valley

c : to deplete or empty by or as if by drawing off by degrees or in increments drained the country of its resources

d : to empty by drinking the contents of drain a mug of beer

4 sports : drop sense 7c, sink drain the putt drained two free throws

intransitive verb

1a : to flow off gradually

b : to disappear gradually : dwindle his nervousness drained away, as it always did— H. A. Sinclair

2 : to become emptied or freed of liquid by its flowing or dropping waiting for the tub to drain

3 : to discharge surface or surplus water drains into the Gulf of Mexico



Definition of drain (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a means (such as a pipe) by which usually liquid matter is drained

2a : the act of draining

b : a gradual outflow or withdrawal : depletion a net drain from the East of five million souls— G. W. Pierson

3 : something that causes depletion : burden a drain on the city's resources

4 electronics : an electrode in a field-effect transistor toward which charge carriers move — compare gate, source

down the drain

: to a state of being wasted or irretrievably lost All their hard work went down the drain.

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Other Words from drain


drainer noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for drain

Synonyms: Verb

absorb, burn, consume, deplete, devour, draw down, exhaust, expend, play out, spend, use up

Antonyms: Verb

renew, replace

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Choose the Right Synonym for drain


deplete, drain, exhaust, impoverish, bankrupt mean to deprive of something essential to existence or potency. deplete implies a reduction in number or quantity so as to endanger the ability to function. depleting our natural resources drain implies a gradual withdrawal and ultimate deprivation of what is necessary to an existence. personal tragedy had drained him of all spirit exhaust stresses a complete emptying. her lecture exhausted the subject impoverish suggests a deprivation of something essential to richness or productiveness. impoverished soil bankrupt suggests impoverishment to the point of imminent collapse. war had bankrupted the nation of resources

Examples of drain in a Sentence


Drain the canned tomatoes before adding them to the pot. The swamp has been drained. I was waiting for the bathtub to drain. The river drains into a lake. Years of civil war have drained the country's resources. The city's emergency fund has been drained. I feel totally drained of energy this evening.


The drain in the bathtub is blocked.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Money from ticket sales drained into hundreds of bank accounts controlled by about 150 regional offices, Mr. Glushkov said in a witness statement. Alan Cullison, WSJ, "A Trio of Wealthy Russians Made an Enemy of Putin. Now They’re All Dead.," 10 Oct. 2018 Some causes of infertility in men include: Varicocele A varicocele is swelling of one or several of the veins that drain the testicle. Jennifer Gerson, Marie Claire, "Can Men Cause Fertility Issues?," 1 Oct. 2018 In a warm location (about 70 degrees), start your seeds in a seed tray with a very light soil mix or fine vermiculite that drains quickly. Therese Ciesinski, Good Housekeeping, "How to Grow Lavender Anywhere — Even Indoors," 9 Aug. 2018 Apparently, one full hour of watching Dr. Sandra Lee (better known as Dr. Pimple Popper) work her magic and drain pus from some of the biggest cysts, boils, and whiteheads is still not enough. Hilary Shepherd, Teen Vogue, "Dr. Pimple Popper Launches New Website With Behind the Scenes Videos," 8 Aug. 2018 Make sure to plant in an area that drains well with no standing water after a rain shower. Arricca Sansone, Country Living, "How to Grow Lily Flowers," 1 Aug. 2018 Prior research had shown that for a while, much of the resulting freshwater drained down the Mississippi River and into the Gulf of Mexico. Christopher Mooney, BostonGlobe.com, "Scientists may have solved a huge riddle that led to more than 1,000 years of cold on Earth. It doesn’t bode well," 12 July 2018 Medical causes could include swelling of the veins that drain the testicle, infections, tumors, Celiac disease or ejaculation problems. Mari A. Schaefer, Philly.com, "Study: Nutrition in nuts may help boost sperm count," 10 July 2018 But the wetlands and creek beds to the north that drain into the lake are still filled with nutrients that flow into the lake, Havens said. Jenny Staletovich, miamiherald, "What’s an algae bloom and how did it wind up sliming Florida’s biggest lake?," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Florida resident Karyl Niemi suggested using a pot cover to make sure your bath tub drain stays sealed. Jennifer Earl, Fox News, "Hurricane Florence household hacks go viral ahead of major storm," 13 Sep. 2018 London’s sewer system is a relic of the Victorian era, and the narrow pipes can’t handle the amount of fat and grease modern Londoners flush down their drains. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Watch London's Gross Fatberg Gruesomely Transform in Real Time," 15 Aug. 2018 One finalist that saw its hopes for a trophy go down the drain is Zodiac Aerospace’s Durinal. Nick Stockton, WIRED, "Math Says Urinals in Planes Could Make Lavatory Lines Shorter for Everyone," 22 May 2018 Leave them on for a period of time and get a sense for how the drains work. Revisit areas under sinks to see if P-traps are leaking while the water runs. Brian Sodoma And Clare Gersh, azcentral, "The plumbing checklist homebuyers need before purchasing a home," 17 Apr. 2018 Among them: Other inmates smearing feces in common areas and flooding their cells, requiring cleanup crews to dump hazardous waste down the drain of the only shower available to him. Diana Dombrowski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Ex-cop sues Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office alleging inhumane conditions in jail," 7 July 2018 The university has installed three digesters to break down food waste faster so it can be disposed of down the drain. Annabelle Williams, Philly.com, "Temple's food waste digesters disrupting the industry or just 'shifting the burden'?," 27 June 2018 Aquamation uses lye, not acid, and similar fluids are flushed down the drain during the embalming process. Michelle Weber, Longreads, "Looking for a Greener Death," 20 June 2018 That liquid gets flushed down the drain, and treated like any other type of wastewater. Emily Atkin, WIRED, "The Powerful Groups Stonewalling a Greener Way to Die," 17 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'drain.' 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 drain


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1552, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for drain


Middle English draynen, from Old English drēahnian — more at dry


see drain entry 1

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Statistics for drain

Last Updated

17 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for drain

The first known use of drain was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for drain



English Language Learners Definition of drain

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to remove (liquid) from something by letting it flow away or out

of a container : to become empty of a liquid

of a liquid : to flow into, away from, or out of something



English Language Learners Definition of drain (Entry 2 of 2)

: something (such as a pipe) that is used for removing a liquid from a place or container

: something that uses a lot of time, money, etc.


\ˈdrān \
drained; draining

Kids Definition of drain

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to remove (liquid) from something by letting it flow away or out We need to drain water from the pool.

2 : to slowly make or become dry or empty drain a swamp

3 : to flow into, away from, or out of something The water slowly drained.

4 : to slowly disappear All the joy of the music drained out of him.— Mary Pope Osborne, Christmas in Camelot

5 : to tire out She was drained by the busy weekend.



Kids Definition of drain (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something used to remove a liquid the tub's drain

2 : something that slowly empties of or uses up The long trip was a drain on Grandma's strength.

\ˈdrān \

Medical Definition of drain 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : to draw off (liquid) gradually or completely drain pus from an abscess

b : to exhaust physically or emotionally

2 : to carry away or give passage to a bodily fluid or a discharge from drain an abscess the eustachian tube drains the middle ear— H. G. Armstrong

intransitive verb

: to flow off gradually blood draining from a wound



Medical Definition of drain (Entry 2 of 2)

: a tube or cylinder usually of absorbent material for drainage of a wound — see cigarette drain

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More from Merriam-Webster on drain

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for drain

Spanish Central: Translation of drain

Nglish: Translation of drain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of drain for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about drain

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