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90s Slang You Should Know


[kuh n-streyn] /kənˈstreɪn/
verb (used with object)
to force, compel, or oblige:
He was constrained to admit the offense.
to confine forcibly, as by bonds.
to repress or restrain:
Cold weather constrained the plant's growth.
Origin of constrain
1275-1325; Middle English constrei(g)nen < Anglo-French, Middle French constrei(g)n- (stem of constreindre) < Latin constringere. See con-, strain1
Related forms
constrainable, adjective
constrainer, noun
constrainingly, adverb
nonconstraining, adjective
unconstrainable, adjective
unconstraining, adjective
Can be confused
coerce, compel, constrain, force, oblige.
1. coerce. 2. check, bind.
2. free. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for constrain
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Come, lads, I have no wish to constrain you, I merely give one of you the chance.

    The Giant of the North R.M. Ballantyne
  • I beg your pardon, but my brother; he shall not constrain me.

    Clarissa, Volume 2 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • But—I constrain you in the act of rushing off to pack your things—one moment: this essay has yet to be finished.

    And Even Now Max Beerbohm
  • Would you profit by the authority you possess over her to constrain her will?

    One Of Them Charles James Lever
  • It is not necessary to constrain into harmony what is in itself harmonious.

British Dictionary definitions for constrain


verb (transitive)
to compel or force, esp by persuasion, circumstances, etc; oblige
to restrain by or as if by force; confine
Derived Forms
constrainer, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French constreindre, from Latin constringere to bind together, from stringere to bind
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 constrain

early 14c., constreyen, from stem of Old French constreindre (Modern French contraindre) "restrain, control," from Latin constringere "to bind together, tie tightly, fetter, shackle, chain," from com- "together" (see com-) + stringere "to draw tight" (see strain (v.)). Related: Constrained; constraining.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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