- To constrain is to impose limitations or restrictions on someone or something, or to force yourself or someone else to act in a certain way.
- When you limit someone's freedom, this is an example of a situation where you constrain that person.
- When you compel someone to follow a specific course of action, this is an example of a situation where you constrain that person.
- When you force yourself to act in a certain manner, this is an example of a situation where you constrain your behavior.
- to force into, or hold in, close bounds; confine
- to hold back by force; restrain
- to force; compel; oblige: he was constrained to agree
Origin of constrainMiddle English constreinen ; from Old French constreindre ; from Classical Latin constringere, to bind together, draw together ; from com-, together + stringere, to draw tight: see strict
transitive verbcon·strained, con·strain·ing, con·strains
- a. To keep within certain limits; confine or limit: “Legislators &ellipsis; used the power of the purse to constrain the size of the military” (Julian E. Zelizer).b. To inhibit or restrain; hold back: “She noticed her mother blushing and acting somewhat constrained in her conversation with the grandmother” (David Huddle).
- To compel by physical, moral, or circumstantial force; oblige: felt constrained to object to his behavior.
- To produce in a forced or inhibited manner: “This smile seemed to touch something off in her &ellipsis; and playfully she constrained her own roguish smile” (Naeem Murr).
Origin of constrainMiddle English constreinen, from Old French constraindre, constraign-, from Latin cōnstringere, to restrain, compress : com-, com- + stringere, to bind, press together; see streig- in Indo-European roots.
(third-person singular simple present constrains, present participle constraining, simple past and past participle constrained)