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 words Morley 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

Example Sentences

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
Ian Brook, prosecuting for the General Medical Council (GMC), said one patient, a fashion model referred to as Patient A, contacted him about having a breast reduction due to her back and shoulder pain and self-esteem issues. Ian Leonard, Fox News, 17 Nov. 2022 One mom even noted that the lower band helped ease her back pain. Cailey Lindberg, Good Housekeeping, 17 Nov. 2022 Shannon doesn’t shy away from her pain, instead finding resilience in this brilliantly heartfelt, funny and ultimately joyful book. Allison Cho, Washington Post, 17 Nov. 2022 Other doctors said patients with terminal diagnoses are turning to medical assistance in dying, or MAID, when their pain and anxiety grow unbearable. James Freeman, WSJ, 17 Nov. 2022 Trump still connects with the GOP base, feeling their pain—and then amplifies and channels it. Robert Schlesinger, The New Republic, 16 Nov. 2022 But in those few minutes, her pain and humiliation seeped out of a wound still open, 17 years after it was inflicted. Anita Chabria, Los Angeles Times, 15 Nov. 2022 His attorney, Richard Brown, said this was a difficult case because the patient had become a friend of Mongelluzzo, and the doctor did help the patient manage his chronic pain. Kate Farrish, Hartford Courant, 15 Nov. 2022 Some historians have theorized that Rasputin, with his hypnotic voice, could calm the overwrought Czarina, which eased the tension suffered by her dependent son and thus reduced his pain. Town & Country, 14 Nov. 2022
Verb
LoveJoy Creations and Second Chance Beer Company will host an art class on how to pain your pet. San Diego Union-Tribune, 16 Nov. 2022 Story getting back in the lineup comes down to pain tolerance, Cora suggested. Julian Mcwilliams, BostonGlobe.com, 18 Sep. 2022 Gullett, Earley, Lowry and Stanley admitted the customers reported being addicted to pain medication, had failed or had abnormal drug screenings several times, bought pills on the street and sold pills from their Hope prescriptions to others. Fox News, 13 Sep. 2022 Ease tension, stress, or pain the traditional Chinese medicine way with this at-home acupressure kit. Alyssa Gautieri, Good Housekeeping, 26 Aug. 2022 Appropriately named the minicure, the robot manicure service uses a combination of 3D and A1 technology to pain your nails in under 10 minutes. Ariana Yaptangco, Glamour, 3 Aug. 2022 Kristen Stewart, Scott Speedman and Welket Bungué star in the feature, a dystopian tale set in a new future in which humans have become desensitized to pain and are merging with their artificial environment. Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter, 14 June 2022 Side effects — mainly pain at the injection site, headaches and fatigue — were mild and infrequent. Karen Kaplanscience And Medicine Editor, Los Angeles Times, 24 May 2022 There have been some hints in previous studies that pain tolerance is a trainable trait, and that endurance training is one way of enhancing it. Alex Hutchinson, Outside Online, 7 Oct. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pain.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 26 Nov. 2022.

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
on pain of or under pain of
: subject to penalty or punishment of
ordered not to leave the country on pain of death
painless adjective
painlessly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on pain

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