Meaning of STRAIN in English


I. ˈstrān noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English streen, strene, from Old English strēon, strīon treasure, acquisition, procreation, progeny; akin to Old English strīenan to gain, Old High German striunan to gain, gi striuni gain, Latin strues heap — more at structure


a. archaic : offspring , children

b. : a line descended or derived from a particular ancestral individual : progeny , descendants

the weakness of this royal strain increased from generation to generation

also : lineage , ancestry

came of a sturdy peasant strain

c. : a selected group of organisms sharing or presumed to share a common ancestry and usually lacking clear-cut morphological distinctions from related forms but having distinguishing physiological qualities (as high drought resistance in a plant, superior milk production in cattle, or increased virulence in a microorganism)

a high-yielding strain of winter wheat

broadly : a specified infraspecific group (as a stock, line, or ecotype)

d. : a class of persons or things : kind , sort

discussions of the highest strain


a. : inherited or inherent character, quality, or disposition

may this valiant strain remain a part of our national heritage

b. : a tendency or quality that is inherent though often incongruous as if inherited intact : trace , streak

a strain of madness in the family

his character is marred by a strain of fanaticism


a. : a period or other well defined short subdivision of a musical composition or movement ; often : tune , air

b. : a distinct portion of an ode or other poem ; also : a passage of verbal or musical expression

c. : a stream or outburst of forceful, vigorous, or impassioned speech


a. : the tenor, pervading note, burden, tone, manner, style, of an utterance (as a song, poem, speech, book) or of a course of action or conduct

he spoke in a noble strain

there was a strain of woe in his story

b. : mood , temper

in a philosophizing strain

Synonyms: see variety

II. verb

( -ed/-ing/-s )

Etymology: Middle English streinen, strainen, from Middle French estreindre, estraindre, from Latin stringere to bind tight, press together; akin to Greek strang-, stranx drop squeezed out, strangos twisted, flowing drop by drop, strangalē halter, Middle Irish srengim I draw

transitive verb


a. : to draw tight : cause to clasp firmly

the bandage should be strained tightly over the scalded surface to minimize blistering

b. : to stretch to maximum extension and tautness

the wire must be strained into position if the fence is to be firm and erect

strain a canvas over a frame


a. : to exert (as oneself) to the utmost : put to great stress or effort : use or cause to function with extreme vigor

straining himself to a final burst of speed

strained her ear at the keyhole

b. : to injure (as oneself or a body part) by overuse or misuse

strained his heart by overwork

strained herself moving the piano

— compare sprain

c. : to injure by making too great a demand on or by exposure to excessive tension or other force

the storm strained the timbers of the ship

d. : to cause a change of form or size in (a body) by application of external force

3. : to squeeze or clasp tightly: as

a. : to press closely in one's arms : hug — usually used in the phrase strain to one's breast

b. : to compress painfully or harmfully : constrict

c. obsolete : to exert pressure upon so as to cause distress : afflict


(1) : to take firmly in one's hand or grip

straining his hand in tearful farewell

strained her tense hands together

(2) obsolete : to seize (prey) with the claws

(3) obsolete : to grasp firmly and wield or brandish (a weapon)


a. : to cause to pass through a strainer or other separatory device (as a filter, cloth, or porous body) usually by pressure, suction, or the force of gravity

strain the gravy free from lumps

b. : to remove by straining — usually used with out

strain the lumps out of the gravy


a. : to stretch beyond its proper limit : do violence to in respect to intent or meaning

a very strained interpretation of the passage

the interests of justice are rarely served by straining the law

b. : to tax unduly

it would strain anyone's conscience to agree

6. obsolete

a. : to urge (as a request) with importunity : press

b. : to squeeze out : extort

7. : to raise to a high degree, pitch, or emotional state

intransitive verb


a. : to make violent efforts : stretch or extend to a maximum in coping with an exerting or difficult task : strive

muscles straining to raise the stone

his eyes strain to catch a glimpse of the sea

b. : to sustain a strain, wrench, or distortion usually in effecting an effort or resisting a force

ships straining at their anchors

c. : to make a vigorous effort to eject something usually from the body: as

(1) : to retch in attempting to vomit

(2) : to contract the muscles forcefully in attempting to defecate — often used in the phrase strain at stool


a. : to pass through a strainer or other separatory device : become filtered

the liquid strains readily

b. : to pass through something easily as if through a strainer : trickle

water straining through sandy soil

c. : to pass from something as if being separated with a strainer : ooze , exude

muddy water strained from her hair

juice straining from the overripe fruits


a. : to make great difficulty or resistance : balk

a horse straining at the lead

ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel — Mt 23:24 (Authorized Version)

b. : to take exception : scruple — usually used with at

anyone would strain at such an interpretation

Synonyms: see demur

- strain a point

- strain courtesy

III. noun

( -s )

1. : an act of straining or the condition of being strained: as

a. : excessive physical or mental tension

subject to severe strain in action

also : a force, influence, or factor causing such tension

the wind pressure was a strain on the ship's rigging

her responsibilities were a constant strain

b. : excessive or difficult exertion or labor : a violent or overtaxing effort

gave a great strain and heaved the load aboard

c. : a hurt or injury of a body part or organ resulting or such as results from excessive tension, effort, or use

suffered from heart strain

usually : an injury resulting from a wrench or twist and involving overstretching of muscles or ligaments

foot strain

back strain

— compare sprain

d. : deformation of a material body and especially of an elastic solid under the action of applied forces

2. : something reachable only by straining : an unusual reach, degree, height, or intensity : pitch

a strain of excitement quite beyond my reach

3. archaic : a misconstruction obtained by stretching a meaning (as of a word or passage) : a strained interpretation of something said or written

4. obsolete : the track or hoofmarks of a deer

Synonyms: see stress

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.