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
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
The next morning, he was awakened not by a dream, but by the pain, which soon ebbed. Steven Petrow, Washington Post, 19 July 2024 Treatment currently relies on immunosuppressants to reduce inflammation and pain, however, the drugs often don't effectively treat the disease and their side effects hinder the body’s ability to stave off infections, researchers said. Eduardo Cuevas, USA TODAY, 12 July 2024
Verb
The care center also notes that sometimes pain that's felt in your belly can also be related to an issue in your chest, pelvis, or spine. Daryl Austin, USA TODAY, 13 Feb. 2024 Loading your audio article In spite of its power, Israel is losing the war Irbid, Jordan: I am pained by what is happening in Gaza. Voice Of The People, New York Daily News, 21 Jan. 2024 See all Example Sentences for pain 

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 23 Jul. 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

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