\ ˈdrān How to pronounce drain (audio) \
drained; draining; drains

Definition of drain

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : 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
2a : 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
3 sports : drop sense 7c, sink drain the putt drained two free throws
4 obsolete : filter

intransitive verb

1 : to become emptied or freed of liquid by its flowing or dropping waiting for the tub to drain
2 : to discharge surface or surplus water drains into the Gulf of Mexico
3a : to flow off gradually
b : to disappear gradually : dwindle his nervousness drained away, as it always did— H. A. Sinclair



Definition of drain (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a means (such as a pipe) by which usually liquid matter is drained
2 : something that causes depletion : burden a drain on the city's resources
3a : the act of draining
b : a gradual outflow or withdrawal : depletion a net drain from the East of five million souls— G. W. Pierson
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.

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from drain


drainer noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for drain

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

Verb 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. Noun The drain in the bathtub is blocked.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water, then drain shrimp and pasta and return to pot; toss with remaining 2 Tbsp lemon juice. Woman's Day Kitchen, Woman's Day, "Green Olive Shrimp Pasta," 30 Apr. 2020 The school has even drained its ice hockey rink to make space, should it be needed. Soo Rin Kim, ABC News, "States look to closed hospitals and college dorms to meet coronavirus demands," 19 Mar. 2020 As of last summer, Ocasio-Cortez and Cruz were still working on the bill to drain the swamp. Anna Kaplan, refinery29.com, "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Grills Ted Cruz On Twitter With Her Résumé Of Credentials," 28 Feb. 2020 Is President Trump draining the swamp or pardoning it? NBC News, "Meet the Press - February 23, 2020," 23 Feb. 2020 This free-for-all is draining away the water that homeowners also depend on, leaving some with dry wells. AZCentral.com, "Megafarms and deeper wells are draining the water beneath rural Arizona – quietly, irreversibly," 5 Dec. 2019 Beginning in earnest during the 1880s, a host of entities set about draining the swamp. Allen G. Breed, The Denver Post, "To save Everglades, guardians fight time — and climate," 3 Dec. 2019 Beginning in earnest during the 1880s, a host of entities set about draining the swamp. Allen G. Breed, sun-sentinel.com, "To save the Everglades, guardians fight time — and climate," 3 Dec. 2019 If governments decide to tighten the rules around online advertising—and perhaps attempt to drain the digital swamp more broadly—the result will be a profusion of local laws for the tech firms to comply with. The Economist, "Democracy and the internet How to police political advertising," 28 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Work 'flushed down the drain' Not every lawmaker here is sold on the plan, though. Andrew Oxford, azcentral, "Arizona Legislature plans to adjourn for good next week, dooming heaps of bills," 21 Apr. 2020 As the 20-year-old Southern Methodist University student leaned over the sink, her blood swirling down the drain, the officer asked what happened. Dallas Morning News, "Texas law enforcement uses hypnosis to investigate crimes. Does it uncover the truth?," 8 Apr. 2020 The bureau advised people to never pour grease down drains, as the liquid solidifies in pipes. Jim Ryan | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, "Grease-clogged sewer line causes 600-gallon overflow in SW Portland," 3 Apr. 2020 Let rhubarb drain, pressing on solids with the back of a spoon to extract all liquid. Beth Kracklauer, WSJ, "Why Après-Ski Is Passé," 6 Feb. 2020 Then there are the sewers and the wastewater plants. Stormwater drains. Levees. Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic, "The Toxic Bubble of Technical Debt Threatening America," 29 Oct. 2019 Those drains emptied into nearby Rainbow Brook, a small tributary of the Farmington River. Gregory B. Hladky, courant.com, "Firefighting foam chemicals used to put out B-17 crash flames reached the Farmington River," 17 Oct. 2019 Clean drains and rain gutters before the (hopefully) rainy season begins. Nan Sterman, San Diego Union-Tribune, "29 garden chores for October," 2 Oct. 2019 The university already is estimating a revenue drain of $50 million to $67 million for spring and summer, President Tim Sands said in a statement released Sunday. USA TODAY, "Packed beaches, Tupac files for unemployment, no Mother’s Day flowers: News from around our 50 states," 29 Apr. 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of drain


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 4


1552, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for drain

Verb and Noun

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about drain

Time Traveler for drain

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for drain

Last Updated

18 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Drain.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/drain. Accessed 29 May. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for drain


How to pronounce drain (audio)

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 How to pronounce drain (audio) \
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 How to pronounce drain (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on drain

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

May 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a blooming wisteria tree
  • Which is a synonym of exiguous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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