Definition of constrain in English:

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Pronunciation: /kənˈstrān/


[with object]
1Severely restrict the scope, extent, or activity of: agricultural development is considerably constrained by climate we can constrain data access
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, contain, rein in, hold back, keep down
1.1Compel or force (someone) toward a particular course of action: 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.
compel, force, drive, impel, oblige, coerce, prevail on, require;
press, push, pressure
1.2 (usually as adjective constrained) Cause to appear unnaturally forced, typically because of embarrassment: 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, forced, stilted, strained;
restrained, reserved, reticent, guarded
1.3 literary Confine forcibly; imprison.
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.
1.4 archaic Bring about (something) by compulsion: Calypso in her caves constrained his stay



Pronunciation: /kənˈstrānədlē/
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'.

Words that rhyme with constrain

abstain, appertain, arcane, arraign, ascertain, attain, Bahrain, bane, blain, brain, Braine, Cain, Caine, campaign, cane, cinquain, chain, champagne, champaign, Champlain, Charmaine, chicane, chow mein, cocaine, Coleraine, Coltrane, complain, contain, crane, Dane, deign, demesne, demi-mondaine, detain, disdain, domain, domaine, drain, Duane, Dwane, Elaine, entertain, entrain, explain, fain, fane, feign, gain, Germaine, germane, grain, humane, Hussein, inane, Jain, Jane, Jermaine, Kane, La Fontaine, lain, lane, legerdemain, Lorraine, main, Maine, maintain, mane, mise en scène, Montaigne, moraine, mundane, obtain, ordain, Paine, pane, pertain, plain, plane, Port-of-Spain, profane, rain, Raine, refrain, reign, rein, retain, romaine, sane, Seine, Shane, Sinn Fein, skein, slain, Spain, Spillane, sprain, stain, strain, sustain, swain, terrain, thane, train, twain, Ujjain, Ukraine, underlain, urbane, vain, vane, vein, Verlaine, vicereine, wain, wane, Wayne

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: con·strain

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