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See more synonyms for constraint on Thesaurus.com
  1. limitation or restriction.
  2. repression of natural feelings and impulses: to practice constraint.
  3. unnatural restraint in manner, conversation, etc.; embarrassment.
  4. something that constrains.
  5. the act of constraining.
  6. the condition of being constrained.
  7. Linguistics. a restriction on the operation of a linguistic rule or the occurrence of a linguistic construction.
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Origin of constraint

1350–1400; Middle English constreinte < Middle French, noun use of feminine past participle of constreindre; see constrain
Related formsnon·con·straint, noun


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for constraints


  1. compulsion, force, or restraint
  2. repression or control of natural feelings or impulses
  3. a forced unnatural manner; inhibition
  4. something that serves to constrain; restrictive conditionsocial constraints kept him silent
  5. linguistics any very general restriction on a sentence formation rule
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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

Word Origin and History for constraints



late 14c., "distress, oppression," from Old French constreinte "binding, constraint, compulsion" (Modern French contrainte), fem. noun from constreint, past participle of constreindre, from Vulgar Latin *constrinctus, from Latin constrictus (see constrain). Meaning "coercion, compulsion" is from 1530s.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper