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[kuh n-streynt] /kənˈstreɪnt/
limitation or restriction.
repression of natural feelings and impulses:
to practice constraint.
unnatural restraint in manner, conversation, etc.; embarrassment.
something that constrains.
the act of constraining.
the condition of being constrained.
Linguistics. a restriction on the operation of a linguistic rule or the occurrence of a linguistic construction.
Origin of constraint
1350-1400; Middle English constreinte < Middle French, noun use of feminine past participle of constreindre; see constrain
Related forms
nonconstraint, noun
1. force, obligation, pressure. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for constraint
  • The main advantage of online learning, in my view, is that it removes the space-time constraint.
  • Another constraint faced by large arthropods is breathing.
  • The liberty of action you prescribe is rather a necessity for me than a constraint.
  • Future reactor designs may make this easier, but for now it's a constraint.
  • When the government invests, there is no such constraint and money ends up being squandered.
  • The ultimate constraint is the amount of road space.
  • Desires that caused conflict were more likely to prompt an attempt at active self-constraint.
  • In this case, probably functional constraint on the genetic architecture.
  • These lunar-ranging experiments turn out to be an important constraint on alternative theories of gravity.
  • In many oversocialized people this results in a sense of constraint and powerlessness that can be a severe hardship.
British Dictionary definitions for constraint


compulsion, force, or restraint
repression or control of natural feelings or impulses
a forced unnatural manner; inhibition
something that serves to constrain; restrictive condition: social constraints kept him silent
(linguistics) any very general restriction on a sentence formation rule
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 constraint

late 14c., "distress, oppression," from Old French constreinte "binding, constraint, compulsion" (Modern French contrainte), fem. noun from constreint, past participle of constreindre, from Vulgar Latin *constrinctus, from Latin constrictus (see constrain). Meaning "coercion, compulsion" is from 1530s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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constraint in Technology
programming, mathematics
A Boolean relation, often an equality or ineqality relation, between the values of one or more mathematical variables (often two). E.g. x>3 is a constraint on x. constraint satisfaction attempts to assign values to variables so that all constraints are true.
Usenet newsgroup: news:comp.constraints. FAQ (
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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