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[spreyn] /spreɪn/
verb (used with object)
to overstrain or wrench (the ligaments of an ankle, wrist, or other joint) so as to injure without fracture or dislocation.
a violent straining or wrenching of the parts around a joint, without dislocation.
the condition of being sprained.
Origin of sprain
1595-1605; origin uncertain
Related forms
unsprained, adjective
1. twist. See strain1 . Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for sprain
Historical Examples
  • It is written an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth; but there is no sprain for a sprain.

  • It couldn't even have been a sprain, judging by the way he was standing there.

    Ten From Infinity Paul W. Fairman
  • And so, early the next morning when Hal went to his work he proceeded to "sprain his wrist."

    King Coal Upton Sinclair
  • A man may sprain his ankle, and certainly will knock his head.

    The Bertrams Anthony Trollope
  • It happened that, some time after the curing of Darius's sprain, Atossa herself was sick.

    Darius the Great Jacob Abbott
  • "If it's a sprain he can't be too careful with it," she insisted.

    A Venetian June Anna Fuller
  • They watched him with some curiosity as he treated the sprain and studied the pulse.

  • “Betty seems to like having a sprain,” said Nancy, looking at her over the balusters.

  • A sprain of the wrist, which had been a week ailing, yielded to the daisy in three days.

  • If the inquisitive choose to make of it a sprain it is their own affair.

    The Carter Girls Nell Speed
British Dictionary definitions for sprain


(transitive) to injure (a joint) by a sudden twisting or wrenching of its ligaments
the resulting injury to such a joint, characterized by swelling and temporary disability
Word Origin
C17: of uncertain origin
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 sprain

c.1600, of uncertain origin. The verb is attested from 1620s. A connection has been suggested to Middle French espraindre "to press out," from Latin exprimere, but the sense evolution is difficult.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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sprain in Medicine

sprain (sprān)
An injury to a ligament when the joint is carried through a range of motion greater than its normal range without dislocation or fracture. v. sprained, sprain·ing, sprains
To cause a sprain to a joint or ligament.

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