Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[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. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for constrain
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I beg your pardon, but my brother; he shall not constrain me.

    Clarissa, Volume 2 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • Would you profit by the authority you possess over her to constrain her will?

    One Of Them Charles James Lever
  • But only the vision of the Love that was willing to be broken for us can constrain us to be willing for that.

    The Calvary Road Roy Hession
  • Masters were forbidden to constrain slaves to marry against their will.

  • The hand of the bat has become so modified as to constrain the bat to live in the air.

    Form and Function E. S. (Edward Stuart) Russell
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
Cite This Source
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
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for constrain

Word Value for constrain

Scrabble Words With Friends