verb (used with object)

to overstrain or wrench (the ligaments of an ankle, wrist, or other joint) so as to injure without fracture or dislocation.


a violent straining or wrenching of the parts around a joint, without dislocation.
the condition of being sprained.

Nearby words

  1. spraddle,
  2. spraddle-legged,
  3. sprag,
  4. sprague,
  5. sprague, frank julian,
  6. sprain fracture,
  7. spraint,
  8. sprang,
  9. sprat,
  10. spratly islands

Origin of sprain

First recorded in 1595–1605; origin uncertain

Related formsun·sprained, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sprain

British Dictionary definitions for sprain



(tr) to injure (a joint) by a sudden twisting or wrenching of its ligaments


the resulting injury to such a joint, characterized by swelling and temporary disability

Word Origin for sprain

C17: of uncertain origin

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 sprain



c.1600, of uncertain origin. The verb is attested from 1620s. A connection has been suggested to Middle French espraindre "to press out," from Latin exprimere, but the sense evolution is difficult.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for sprain




An injury to a ligament when the joint is carried through a range of motion greater than its normal range without dislocation or fracture.


To cause a sprain to a joint or ligament.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.