- physical suffering or distress, as due to injury, illness, etc.
- a distressing sensation in a particular part of the body: a back pain.
- mental or emotional suffering or torment: I am sorry my news causes you such pain.
- laborious or careful efforts; assiduous care: Great pains have been taken to repair the engine perfectly.
- the suffering of childbirth.
- Informal. an annoying or troublesome person or thing.
- to cause physical pain to; hurt.
- to cause (someone) mental or emotional pain; distress: Your sarcasm pained me.
- to have or give pain.
Origin of pain
SynonymsSee more synonyms for pain on Thesaurus.com
- the sensation of acute physical hurt or discomfort caused by injury, illness, etc
- emotional suffering or mental distress
- on pain of subject to the penalty of
- Also called: pain in the neck, (taboo) pain in the arse informal a person or thing that is a nuisance
- to cause (a person) distress, hurt, grief, anxiety, etc
- informal to annoy; irritate
Word Origin and History for on pain of
late 13c., "punishment," especially for a crime; also "condition one feels when hurt, opposite of pleasure," from Old French peine "difficulty, woe, suffering, punishment, Hell's torments" (11c.), from Latin poena "punishment, penalty, retribution, indemnification" (in Late Latin also "torment, hardship, suffering"), from Greek poine "retribution, penalty, quit-money for spilled blood," from PIE *kwei- "to pay, atone, compensate" (see penal). The earliest sense in English survives in phrase on pain of death.
Phrase to give (someone) a pain "be annoying and irritating" is from 1908; localized as pain in the neck (1924) and pain in the ass (1934), though this last might have gone long unrecorded and be the original sense and the others euphemisms. Pains "great care taken (for some purpose)" is first recorded 1520s (in the singular in this sense, it is attested from c.1300). First record of pain-killer is from 1853.
c.1300, "to exert or strain oneself, strive; endeavor," from Old French pener (v.) "to hurt, cause pain," from peine, and from Middle English peine (n.); see pain (n.). Transitive meaning "cause pain; inflict pain" is from late 14c. That of "to cause sorrow, grief, or unhappiness" also is from late 14c. Related: Pained; paining.
- An unpleasant sensation occurring in varying degrees of severity as a consequence of injury, disease, or emotional disorder.
- One of the uterine contractions occurring in childbirth.
Idioms and Phrases with on pain of
on pain of
Also, under pain of. Subject to the penalty of a specific punishment. For example, The air traffic controllers knew that going on strike was on pain of losing their jobs. At one time this idiom often invoked death as the penalty, a usage that is largely hyperbolic today, as in We'd better be back on time, under pain of death. [Late 1300s]
In addition to the idioms beginning with pain
- pain in the neck
- at pains
- feel no pain
- for one's pains
- growing pains
- no pain, no gain
- on pain of