\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

Buy good tuna in olive oil and don’t drain it; tip it into a bowl and sprinkle with vinegar to make a dressing with the oil in the can. Sheryl Julian, BostonGlobe.com, "Recipe: Spanish tuna salad with tomatoes, eggs, olives, and onions will become your summer standby," 9 July 2018 Every river in this vast area drains into dusty deserts, or lakes like the Caspian and Aral Sea. Ken Jennings, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Aral Sea Is Refilling for the First Time in Decades," 25 June 2018 The land washes away without constant replenishment from the wild river; another 2,250 square miles or more could drain away over the next 50 years. Ernie Mastroianni, Discover Magazine, "A Mighty Model," 15 May 2018 Just note that this gorgeous, higher resolution will shrink text and icons onscreen, and also drain your battery faster. Melissa Riofrio, PCWorld, "The HP Envy 17 is selling speed, thanks to Intel Optane memory and Nvidia graphics," 14 May 2018 The 6-foot-6, 225-pound Richie could drain 3-pointers, create scoring opportunities off the dribble and, with that size, wreak havoc in the post. Pat Disabato, Daily Southtown, "Disabato: Bloom grad Austin Richie takes detour to Don Bosco on way to signing with Northern Illinois," 11 May 2018 Carefully drain grease from pan, reserving 1 tablespoon. Birmingham Magazine, AL.com, "2 spring-ready recipes for English peas," 13 Apr. 2018 Trouble is, the therapist is under the employ of a hospital that has a vested interest in admitting patients for 72-hour holds and draining insurance money from them. Richard Lawson, HWD, "Claire Foy Gives a Star Turn in Harrowing Unsane," 23 Mar. 2018 Or, a gutter and downspout that once drained properly but now discharge next to the foundation can cause a spike in indoor humidity if that moisture collects around the foundation and leaks into the basement. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, "What Causes That Condensation on my Ceiling?," 20 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Orlando firefighters fetched an adorable little kitten out of a storm drain near Orlando International Airport on Tuesday night. David Harris, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Cute kitten alert! Orlando firefighters rescue cat stuck in storm drain," 7 June 2018 Inspectors also found part of the ceiling to be leaking, and flies coming out of a drain. Michael Bartiromo, Fox News, "Delaware Burger King reopens following rodent infestation and 'gross unsanitary conditions'," 6 June 2018 Media: Euronews Approximately 100 feet of deck drain was replaced. Houston Chronicle, "City pool opens for summer; extensive renovations complete," 26 May 2018 Exfoliants take over our shower drains, facial sprays abound, and SPF coats every inch of our faces and bodies. Zoë Weiner, Teen Vogue, "The Best Summer Styling Tips for Your Everyday Hair Care Routine," 18 June 2018 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

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

6 Oct 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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