pain

noun
\ ˈpān How to pronounce pain (audio) \

Definition of pain

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a(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/buttHis 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
on pain of or under pain of
: subject to penalty or punishment of made to leave the country on pain of death

pain

verb
pained; paining; pains

Definition of pain (Entry 2 of 2)

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from pain

Noun

painless \ ˈpān-​ləs How to pronounce painless (audio) \ adjective
painlessly adverb
painlessness noun

Synonyms for pain

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 The hospital argues that the child, who was born with a heart defect, chronic lung disease, and a blood-pressure disorder, stands no chance of a normal life and is enduring terrible pain and suffering. Nr Editors, National Review, "The Week," 9 Jan. 2020 Luck retired after Indy's third preseason game, citing the failure of his calf to properly heal and the draining cycle of injury, pain and rehab. Akeem Glaspie, Indianapolis Star, "Former Colts QB Andrew Luck isn't 'hankering to get back' to NFL says father Oliver," 8 Jan. 2020 The deals include some flashy health tech—including a form of gamification for pain and anxiety. Sy Mukherjee, Fortune, "The FDA Kept Up Its Drug Approval Streak In 2019," 7 Jan. 2020 The latest batch includes conditions already approved in Ohio, such as chronic pain and PTSD. Jackie Borchardt, Cincinnati.com, "Bengals season got you down? Medical marijuana proposed as a treatment," 7 Jan. 2020 For others, symptoms can include a bulging midriff, breast pain and cysts, moodiness, changes in appetite, energy, and concentration level—and major sleep disturbances. Time, "Gen X Women Get Less Sleep Than Any Other Generation. What's Keeping Them Up?," 6 Jan. 2020 The plaintiffs are seeking damages for personal injuries, pain and suffering, as well as for emotional, financial and economic loss and distress. NBC News, "Delta employees sue Lands' End alleging new uniforms made them sick," 3 Jan. 2020 Williamson recommends packing these essentials to avoid or quickly placate any illness: Use for general pain and discomfort. Mary Kearl, Popular Science, "An exhaustive guide to simpler traveling with small children," 2 Jan. 2020 An audience, hungry for a person to destroy, turned a kid into a viral joke, with little regard for the pain and distress that becoming an online laughingstock can cause. Abby Ohlheiser, Washington Post, "The 24 most important viral reactions on the Internet in the past 20 years," 30 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Mass shootings pained him, of course, but armed citizens made America safer, not more dangerous. The Economist, "Rural Virginians rail against gun controls," 18 Dec. 2019 Such gatherings, which spotlight issues that pain patients face, have been held periodically since last year. Kat Stromquist, Arkansas Online, "Crackdown on opioids searing, pain patients say," 1 Dec. 2019 One thing that pains her is the callousness with which the Belgian blocks that pave the streets are treated when the city undertakes improvements or utility companies do a dig. Jeff Giles, New York Times, "The Most Instagrammable Neighborhood in America, Before It Was Cool," 12 Sep. 2019 Working as a rent-a-clown by day and fostering a nascent stand-up comedy career at night, though not successful at either, he’s afflicted with an intermittent, unnatural cackle that literally pains him and is cruelly disdained at every turn. Brian Truitt, Detroit Free Press, "Joaquin Phoenix will chill you in unsettling 'Joker'," 28 Aug. 2019 It’s been written that he was addicted to pain killers. Greg Moore, azcentral, "Poet remembers late NFL receiver Charles Rogers as source of hope, inspiration for blighted Michigan hometown," 25 Nov. 2019 Kakaban Lake, though, is not the only place in Indonesia to swim, pain free, with jellyfish. Richard C. Paddock, New York Times, "A Lake With Stingless Jellyfish and Hints of Hotter Seas," 4 Nov. 2019 Grilled quail, stuffed with merguez sausage and pain de mais, gets an ode-to-spring medley of fava beans, asparagus and morel mushrooms (chanterelles by now). Phil Vettel, chicagotribune.com, "Triple-threat dining: Aboyer and Silencieux join George Trois for a Winnetka trifecta," 5 Aug. 2019 Chambers and colleagues from Tufts University and the Office Ergonomics Research Committee recently conducted a review of sit-stand desk research on a variety of health and work benefits ranging from posture to productivity to pain relief. Sandee Lamotte, CNN, "Sit, stand, sit: The new science about how to best use your standing desk," 12 Sep. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of pain

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 5

Verb

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

History and Etymology for pain

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about pain

Time Traveler for pain

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for pain

Last Updated

12 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pain.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pain. Accessed 22 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for pain

pain

noun
How to pronounce pain (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of pain

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the physical feeling caused by disease, injury, or something that hurts the body
: mental or emotional suffering : sadness caused by some emotional or mental problem
informal : someone or something that causes trouble or makes you feel annoyed or angry

pain

verb

English Language Learners Definition of pain (Entry 2 of 2)

formal : to cause (someone) to feel emotional pain : to make (someone) upset, sad, worried, etc.

pain

noun
\ ˈpān How to pronounce pain (audio) \

Kids Definition of pain

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : physical suffering that accompanies a bodily disorder (as a disease or an injury) The medicine relieves pain.
2 : a very unpleasant feeling (as a prick or an ache) that is caused especially by something harmful I have a pain in my side.
3 : suffering of the mind or emotions : grief The humiliation brought her great pain.
4 pains plural : great care or effort My sister took pains with the garden.
5 : someone or something annoying

Other Words from pain

painful \ ˈpān-​fəl \ adjective
painfully \ -​fə-​lē \ adverb
painless \ -​ləs \ adjective

pain

verb
pained; paining

Kids Definition of pain (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to cause physical or mental suffering in or to It pains me to think of it.
2 : to give or feel physical or mental suffering The suckers, which were fastened to me and pained greatly, lessened their hold.— Scott O'Dell, Island of the Blue Dolphins

pain

noun
\ ˈpān How to pronounce pain (audio) \

Medical Definition of pain

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a(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

Medical Definition of pain (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make suffer or cause distress to

intransitive verb

: to give or have a sensation of pain

Keep scrolling for more

pain

noun

Legal Definition of pain

2a : 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

Other Words from pain

painless adjective
painlessly adverb

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on pain

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pain

Spanish Central: Translation of pain

Nglish: Translation of pain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pain for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about pain

Comments on pain

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to help to grow, develop, or succeed

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Intact Latin Quiz

  • roman tablet
  • What did focus mean in Latin?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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