Definition of constrain in English:


Line breaks: con|strain
Pronunciation: /kənˈstreɪn


[with object]
  • 1Compel or force (someone) to follow a particular course of action: [with object and infinitive]: children are constrained to work in the way the book dictates
    More example sentences
    • She was not constrained to follow His passage, but made a devastating beeline to wherever she thought she could pin Him down, only to discover in every instance that He was already gone.
    • We are constrained to apply only reasonable force when we, our families, or our property is attacked.
    • May the Lord graciously grant us this holy faith and the love for Christ that rises from it - a love that is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, constraining us to lean on him alone.
  • 1.1 (as adjective constrained) Appearing forced or overly controlled: he was acting in a constrained manner
    More example sentences
    • The reading up is the exercise which we say leaves the Court in the unchartered sea because it has no criteria by which to know how to expand a power which appears to have been given in constrained terms.
    • Our observational abilities are surely constrained yet they correspond to our real world.
    • They clearly care for each other deeply, but there is still a constrained sadness that shows they have sacrificed everything - their homes, their families and even their safety - in order to be together.
    unnatural, awkward, self-conscious, mannered, artificial, wooden, stilted, strained, forced, contrived, laboured; inhibited, repressed, uneasy, embarrassed, tongue-tied; restrained, reserved, reticent, guarded, distant, aloof, cold, cool, stand-offish
  • 1.2Severely restrict the scope, extent, or activity of: agricultural development is considerably constrained by climate
    More example sentences
    • Both the academic and health care communities have been severely constrained in maintaining access to newly-published information.
    • As a result, domestic laws and policies in a wide range of areas need to be changed to make them compliant with these rules, even though this will severely restrict or constrain possible policy options in many areas.
    • It signals an opportunity to escape from your normal routine and experience activities ordinarily constrained by employment restrictions.
    restrict, limit, curb, check, restrain, regulate, contain, hold back, keep down
  • 1.3 archaic Bring about (something) by compulsion: Calypso in her caves constrained his stay
  • 1.4 literary Confine forcibly; imprison: the walls are high, the gates are strong, but true love never yet was thus constrained
    More example sentences
    • He would hate being confined, constrained and any love he had for her would change over time if she asked that of him.
    • Help me, O God, to scrub away the guilt, to flush away the regrets, to polish and oil the rusty hinges that constrain my spirit.
    • I will constrain my heart against my liking, save that I will not delude him with false hopes.
    confine, restrain, restrict, impede, hamstring, baulk, frustrate, stifle, hinder, hamper, check, retard, cramp, rein in; shut in, hem in, fence in, close in, lock in, coop up, chain, lock up, imprison, incarcerate, intern
    literary trammel



Pronunciation: /kənˈstreɪnɪdli/
More example sentences
  • In its nominally extended position each leg resistingly and constrainedly permits further extension and compression.
  • In episodes that refer to two of his paintings and a detail from a third, she starts as a woman in a long, green dress, stretching and curling constrainedly on a chair.
  • Prudence wisely discerns the good, justice rightly does the good, temperance constrainedly loves the good, fortitude bravely keeps you good.


Middle English: from Old French constraindre, from Latin constringere 'bind tightly together'.

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