physical suffering or distress, as due to injury, illness, etc.
a distressing sensation in a particular part of the body: a back pain.
mental or emotional suffering or torment: I am sorry my news causes you such pain.
laborious or careful efforts; assiduous care: Great pains have been taken to repair the engine perfectly.
the suffering of childbirth.
Informal. an annoying or troublesome person or thing.
verb (used with object)
to cause physical pain to; hurt.
to cause (someone) mental or emotional pain; distress: Your sarcasm pained me.
verb (used without object)
to have or give pain.
feel no pain, Informal. to be intoxicated: After all that free beer, we were feeling no pain.
on/upon/under pain of, liable to the penalty of: on pain of death.
pain in the ass, Slang: Vulgar. pain ( def 5 ).
pain in the neck, Informal. pain ( def 5 ).

1250–1300; Middle English peine punishment, torture, pain < Old French < Latin poena penalty, pain < Greek poinḗ penalty

underpain, noun
unpaining, adjective

1–3. torture, misery, torment. Pain , ache , agony , anguish are terms for sensations causing suffering or torment. P ain and ache usually refer to physical sensations (except heartache ); agony and anguish may be physical or mental. P ain suggests a sudden sharp twinge: a pain in one's ankle. A che applies to a continuous pain, whether acute or dull: headache; muscular aches. A gony implies a continuous, excruciating, scarcely endurable pain: in agony from a wound. A nguish suggests not only extreme and long-continued pain, but also a feeling of despair. 2. pang, twinge, stitch. 4a. See care. 7. afflict, torment; trouble, grieve.

3. joy, delight. 7. please. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
pain (peɪn)
1.  the sensation of acute physical hurt or discomfort caused by injury, illness, etc
2.  emotional suffering or mental distress
3.  on pain of subject to the penalty of
4.  informal pain in the neck, Also called: pain in the arse a person or thing that is a nuisance
5.  to cause (a person) distress, hurt, grief, anxiety, etc
6.  informal to annoy; irritate
[C13: from Old French peine, from Latin poena punishment, grief, from Greek poinē penalty]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1300, "punishment," especially for a crime; also "condition one feels when hurt, opposite of pleasure," from O.Fr. peine, from L. poena "punishment, penalty" (in L.L. also "torment, hardship, suffering"), from Gk. poine "punishment," from PIE *kwei- "to pay, atone, compensate" (see
penal). The earliest sense in Eng. survives in phrase on pain of death. The verb meaning "to inflict pain" is first recorded c.1300. Phrase to give (someone) a pain "be annoying and irritating" is from 1908; localized as pain in the neck (1924) and pain in the ass (1934), though this last may be the original, unrecorded sense and the others euphemisms. Pains "great care taken (for some purpose)" is first recorded 1520s (in the singular in this sense, it is attested from c.1300). First record of pain-killer is from 1853.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

pain (pān)

  1. An unpleasant sensation occurring in varying degrees of severity as a consequence of injury, disease, or emotional disorder.

  2. One of the uterine contractions occurring in childbirth.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idioms beginning with pain, also see at pains; feel no pain; for one's pains; growing pains; no pain, no gain; on pain of.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
For amputees suffering from phantom pain, a computer-generated cure might soon
  be at hand.
In some religions, devotion is measured by physical suffering and
  self-inflicted pain.
Dolphins are extremely intelligent creatures that experience pain and
  suffering, she emphasizes.
We must remember that injured feelings can be much more lastingly hurtful than
  physical pain.
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