pain

1 of 2

noun

1
a(1)
: a localized or generalized unpleasant bodily sensation or complex of sensations that causes mild to severe physical discomfort and emotional distress and typically results from bodily disorder (such as injury or disease)
acute shooting pains
also : the state marked by the presence of such sensations
was in constant pain
(2)
: a basic bodily sensation that is induced by a noxious stimulus, is received by naked nerve endings, is associated with actual or potential tissue damage, is characterized by physical discomfort (such as pricking, throbbing, or aching), and typically leads to evasive action
b
: mental or emotional distress or suffering : grief
the pain she had felt at those humiliating wordsMorley Callaghan
2
informal : one that irks or annoys or is otherwise troublesome
… almost everything requires a password these days, and it can be a real pain to remember them all.Michael Cahlin
often used in such phrases as pain in the neck or (impolite) pain in the ass/butt
His little sister is a real pain in the neck.
3
pains plural : trouble, care, or effort taken to accomplish something
was at pains to reassure us
4
pains plural : the throes of childbirth
5
: punishment
the pains and penalties of crime

pain

2 of 2

verb

pained; paining; pains

transitive verb

1
: to make suffer or cause distress to : hurt
2
archaic : to put (oneself) to trouble or exertion

intransitive verb

1
: to give or have a sensation of pain
2
archaic : suffer
Phrases
on pain of or under pain of
: subject to penalty or punishment of
made to leave the country on pain of death

Examples of pain in a Sentence

Noun The medication may upset your stomach but if you experience acute abdominal pain call your doctor. I've had chronic back pain since the accident. The medicine provides 12 hours of pain relief. I feel a dull pain if I touch the bruise. the pain of a difficult childhood It is a story about the joys and pains of life. Rush hour traffic is such a pain. This orange is a pain to peel. Verb As much as it pains me to admit it, she was right. my poor head was paining so from all that racket See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Instead, clear redlines reinforced by credible threats of unacceptable pain are needed. Foreign Affairs, 20 Feb. 2024 This final stage signifies readiness to let go of the pain and bitterness associated with the breakup and open oneself up to new experiences, and maybe even new relationships. Mark Travers, Forbes, 19 Feb. 2024 Repetition is its organizing principle—the repetition of pain, addiction, injury. Parul Sehgal, The New Yorker, 19 Feb. 2024 If the immune system can’t fight off the Coccidioides spores, the illness can move past its initial phase and become a chronic condition that produces a severe cough, chest pain, weight loss, pneumonia, and nodules in the lungs. Zoya Teirstein, WIRED, 17 Feb. 2024 Briana was at an appointment with her wife after experiencing the sudden onset of intense abdominal pain. Camryn J. Wells, Parents, 17 Feb. 2024 Beauty doesn’t always have to end in pain or regret. Essence, 16 Feb. 2024 Peripheral vascular disease: Blood flow in the legs can become impaired, resulting in pain, fatigue, and problems with wound healing. Kelly Wood, Verywell Health, 16 Feb. 2024 Some individuals also rely on red vein kratom to alleviate symptoms of chronic pain. Sponsored Content, The Mercury News, 16 Feb. 2024
Verb
Take Super Bowl 58’s most comparable predecessor — San Francisco’s 20-16 victory in Super Bowl 23, a defeat for a Cincinnati Bengals club led by coach Sam Wyche and quarterback Boomer Esiason that surely stung as much Sunday’s loss pained the Niners. Tom Krasovic, San Diego Union-Tribune, 17 Feb. 2024 And pain the delicious treat with a cup of hot cocoa, jazzed up with a signature marshmallow fluff in vanilla or peppermint. Michelle Jenkins, Idaho Statesman, 31 Jan. 2024 Other studies have found similar results, suggesting that these animals can create complex relationships to pain like vertebrate animals. Kenna Hughes-Castleberry, Ars Technica, 7 Oct. 2023 Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, chairman of the Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters, said in a statement Monday that although the movement’s community was pained by the damage to the building, it has also been moved by an outpouring of support. Praveena Somasundaram, Washington Post, 10 Jan. 2024 Some of the bombs that fell around him were U.S.-made; he was pained by the Biden administration’s refusal to join international calls for a cease-fire. Hannah Allam, Washington Post, 23 Dec. 2023 For starters, several surgeons complained that the knee implants loosened prematurely, causing patients pain and limiting their ability to move around, court records allege. Fred Schulte, CBS News, 10 Oct. 2023 But many in the crowd were also locals, and their presence pained me. Haiane Avakian, The Atlantic, 27 Sep. 2023 The Golden State Warriors rested their four best players -- Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins -- on Jan. 20, paining the countless fans that entered Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse wearing Warriors apparel. Chris Fedor, cleveland, 14 Sep. 2023 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English, from Anglo-French peine, from Latin poena, from Greek poinē payment, penalty; akin to Greek tinein to pay, tinesthai to punish, Avestan kaēnā revenge, Sanskrit cayate he revenges

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 5

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of pain was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near pain

Cite this Entry

“Pain.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pain. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

pain

1 of 2 noun
1
: punishment sense 2
under pain of death
2
a
: physical suffering associated with disease, injury, or other bodily disorder
a pain in the back
b
: a basic bodily sensation that is caused by something harmful, is accompanied by physical discomfort (as pricking, throbbing, or aching), and usually makes one try to escape its source
3
: mental distress : grief
4
plural : the suffering experienced during childbirth
5
plural : great care or effort
took pains with their work
painless adjective
painlessly adverb

pain

2 of 2 verb
1
: to cause pain in or to : hurt
2
: to give or feel pain

Medical Definition

pain

1 of 2 noun
1
a(1)
: a localized or generalized unpleasant bodily sensation or complex of sensations that causes mild to severe physical discomfort and emotional distress and typically results from bodily disorder (as injury or disease)
acute shooting pains
also : the state marked by the presence of such sensations
was in constant pain
(2)
: a basic bodily sensation that is induced by a noxious stimulus, is received by naked nerve endings, is associated with actual or potential tissue damage, is characterized by physical discomfort (as pricking, throbbing, or aching), and typically leads to evasive action
b
: mental or emotional distress or suffering
2
pains plural : the protracted series of involuntary contractions of the uterine musculature that constitute the major factor in parturient labor and that are often accompanied by considerable pain
her pains had begun

pain

2 of 2 transitive verb
: to make suffer or cause distress to

intransitive verb

: to give or have a sensation of pain

Legal Definition

pain

noun
1
2
a
: physical discomfort associated with bodily disorder (as disease or injury)
b
: acute mental or emotional suffering
painless adjective
painlessly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on pain

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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