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[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.
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 constrains
  • Yet there is a depth in those brief moments which constrains us to ascribe more reality to them than to all other experiences.
  • It is custom then which does this, for it constrains nature.
  • Campaigners see all this as part of a growing body of judge-made privacy law which unfairly constrains free speech.
  • It is also so difficult for foreigners to learn that it probably constrains its spread as a world language.
  • It's the widespread belief in rights that really constrains the power of government.
  • Don't pack a schedule so tight that it constrains you.
  • Magic mushrooms' active ingredient constrains control centres.
  • It governs the temperatures and pressures inside stars and constrains the evolution of the cosmos.
  • But the surface area of the drums or discs severely constrains the amount of oil that can be collected.
  • The only thing that constrains them is their imagination.
British Dictionary definitions for constrains


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 constrains



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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