\ 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

While quinoa simmers, cook pasta in a large saucepan according to package directions, drain and set aside but reserve pasta water. Jennifer Rude Klett, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Table for 1: For solo diners, cooking at home offers many perks," 12 July 2018 Fighting becomes a problem if the arguments are nasty and result in personal attacks, leaving both partners feeling drained and small. Brianna Mcgurran, The Seattle Times, "How to fight about money and stay madly in love," 10 July 2018 The team’s executives and coaches envision him one day draining long-range jumpers and blocking shots with ease. Josh Robbins, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Mo Bamba shows flashes of potential in Magic debut," 7 July 2018 Let the shrimp cool completely (about 3 minutes), then drain and pat dry. Jonah Miller, WSJ, "Throw a Summer Party the Effortless Spanish Way," 6 July 2018 Irrigation workers began an operation Tuesday afternoon using more than a dozen large pumps and pipes to drain a small lake and make room for water from the cave. New York Times, "As Search for Thai Boys Lost in Cave Hits Day 5, a Nation Holds Its Breath," 27 June 2018 Finding ways to entertain the kids can be draining on parents -- and their wallets. Chris Sims, Indianapolis Star, "Here are 36 free things to do with your kids around Indy in July," 26 June 2018 People of color were admitted just one day a month, the day before the pools were drained and cleaned. Daryl H. Miller, latimes.com, "'The Ballad of Bimini Baths' plunges into L.A. history," 15 June 2018 Officials point out that making false threats drains law enforcement resources and is costly. Karen Kucher, sandiegouniontribune.com, "FBI launches campaign to 'think before you post' hoax threats," 10 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Paying settlements to individual clans and tribes could become a big drain on state budgets. The Economist, "Australia’s states offer to make treaties with aboriginals," 5 July 2018 Customers recently shared a video of a sewer drain overflowing in a parking lot of the Oasis at Magic Ranch neighborhood in Florence. Ryan Randazzo, azcentral, "Water taps dry, sewers overflow as Johnson Utilities owner faces bribery trial," 28 June 2018 Many insiders increasingly see these as a drain on productivity and a barrier to conducting business. Douglas Macmillan, WSJ, "Google Reins In Workplace Debate," 28 June 2018 For car businesses the debilitating effects of Brexit won’t be sudden or dramatic but more of a slow drain that will sap an industry that powers about 10 percent of the U.K.’s economy. Kaye Wiggins, Bloomberg.com, "Brexit's ‘Death by a Thousand Cuts’ Has U.K. Automakers on Edge," 26 June 2018 In some cases, surgeries like these will require a drain to help prevent the buildup of fluid, and that could lengthen the recovery time, but probably not by much. Katie Heaney, The Cut, "Hypothetically Speaking, Would 24 Days Be a Normal Plastic Surgery Recovery Time?," 5 June 2018 The astronauts are circling the earth in an ailing spacecraft, but have plenty of composure to puzzle through why a lightning strike would cause the fuel cells to register a power drain: Bean: That must have been what done it. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "The Forgotten True Story of Alan Bean's Unlikely Journey to the Moon," 29 May 2018 If Harvey failed, months of work and hundreds of thousands of dollars would disappear down a drain of sorrow. Clifton Brown, Indianapolis Star, "Day in the life of an Indy 500 driver: Jack Harvey endures emotional ride on Bump Day," 21 May 2018 Since Anderson left, the project has faced a steady talent drain. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Tesla Autopilot crisis deepens with loss of third Autopilot boss in 18 months," 26 Apr. 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

8 Sep 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

Comments on drain

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to make amends

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