"You canker blossom!" 3 Shakespearean Insults


[kuh n-streyn] /kənˈstreɪn/
verb (used with object)
to force, compel, or oblige:
He was constrained to admit the offense.
to confine forcibly, as by bonds.
to repress or restrain:
Cold weather constrained the plant's growth.
Origin of constrain
1275-1325; Middle English constrei(g)nen < Anglo-French, Middle French constrei(g)n- (stem of constreindre) < Latin constringere. See con-, strain1
Related forms
constrainable, adjective
constrainer, noun
constrainingly, adverb
nonconstraining, adjective
unconstrainable, adjective
unconstraining, adjective
Can be confused
coerce, compel, constrain, force, oblige (see synonym study at oblige)
1. coerce. 2. check, bind.
2. free. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for constrain
  • They may be my fences, but they constrain me as surely as they constrain the horses.
  • These ingredients limit the chemical reactions that can happen inside cells and so constrain what life can do.
  • So it's public regulation to constrain private regulation.
  • Not only does this constrain the usual hyperbolic marketing.
  • But this doesn't mean that our genes necessarily constrain our potential for greatness.
  • Topics include how animals' consumption behavior may constrain or modify plant ontogenetic patterns.
  • And interest rates in one country constrain those elsewhere more than before.
  • Before that, ancient waters flowed wide and shallow over the land, with little to constrain them other than mountains.
  • We also tried to constrain this list to games that will actually come out this year.
  • Some foreign attempts to constrain press freedom are more understandable than others.
British Dictionary definitions for constrain


verb (transitive)
to compel or force, esp by persuasion, circumstances, etc; oblige
to restrain by or as if by force; confine
Derived Forms
constrainer, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French constreindre, from Latin constringere to bind together, from stringere to bind
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for constrain

early 14c., constreyen, from stem of Old French constreindre (Modern French contraindre) "restrain, control," from Latin constringere "to bind together, tie tightly, fetter, shackle, chain," from com- "together" (see com-) + stringere "to draw tight" (see strain (v.)). Related: Constrained; constraining.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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