What does strain mean?

Definitions for strain

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word strain.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. strainnoun

    (physics) deformation of a physical body under the action of applied forces

  2. stress, strainnoun

    difficulty that causes worry or emotional tension

    "she endured the stresses and strains of life"; "he presided over the economy during the period of the greatest stress and danger"- R.J.Samuelson

  3. tune, melody, air, strain, melodic line, line, melodic phrasenoun

    a succession of notes forming a distinctive sequence

    "she was humming an air from Beethoven"

  4. strain, mental strain, nervous strainnoun

    (psychology) nervousness resulting from mental stress

    "his responsibilities were a constant strain"; "the mental strain of staying alert hour after hour was too much for him"

  5. breed, strain, stocknoun

    a special variety of domesticated animals within a species

    "he experimented on a particular breed of white rats"; "he created a new strain of sheep"

  6. form, variant, strain, var.noun

    (biology) a group of organisms within a species that differ in trivial ways from similar groups

    "a new strain of microorganisms"

  7. strainnoun

    injury to a muscle (often caused by overuse); results in swelling and pain

  8. tenor, strainnoun

    the general meaning or substance of an utterance

    "although I disagreed with him I could follow the tenor of his argument"

  9. striving, nisus, pains, strainnoun

    an effortful attempt to attain a goal

  10. strain, strainingnoun

    an intense or violent exertion

  11. song, strainverb

    the act of singing

    "with a shout and a song they marched up to the gates"

  12. strive, reach, strainverb

    to exert much effort or energy

    "straining our ears to hear"

  13. try, strain, stressverb

    test the limits of

    "You are trying my patience!"

  14. strain, extendverb

    use to the utmost; exert vigorously or to full capacity

    "He really extended himself when he climbed Kilimanjaro"; "Don't strain your mind too much"

  15. sift, sieve, strainverb

    separate by passing through a sieve or other straining device to separate out coarser elements

    "sift the flour"

  16. tense, strain, tense upverb

    cause to be tense and uneasy or nervous or anxious

    "he got a phone call from his lawyer that tensed him up"

  17. strain, tenseverb

    become stretched or tense or taut

    "the bodybuilder's neck muscles tensed;" "the rope strained when the weight was attached"

  18. filter, filtrate, strain, separate out, filter outverb

    remove by passing through a filter

    "filter out the impurities"

  19. puree, strainverb

    rub through a strainer or process in an electric blender

    "puree the vegetables for the baby"

  20. deform, distort, strainverb

    alter the shape of (something) by stress

    "His body was deformed by leprosy"

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Strainnoun

    Etymology: from the verb.

    Credit is gained by custom, and seldom recovers a strain; but if broken, is never well set again. William Temple.

    In all pain there is a deformity by a solution of continuity, as in cutting; or a tendency to solution, as in convulsions or strains. Nehemiah Grew.

    Edmund Spenser.

    Thus far I can praise him; he is of a noble strain,
    Of approv’d valour. William Shakespeare.

    Twelve Trojan youths, born of their noblest strains,
    I took alive: and, yet enrag’d, will empty all their veins
    Of vital spirits. George Chapman, Iliad.

    Why do’st thou falsly feign
    Thyself a Philip Sidney? from which noble strain
    He sprung, that could so far exalt the name
    Of love. Edmund Waller.

    Turn then to Pharamond, and Charlemagne,
    And the long heroes of the Gallick strain. Matthew Prior.

    Amongst these sweet knaves and all this courtesy! the strain of man’s bred out into baboon and monkey. William Shakespeare.

    Intemperance and lust breed diseases, which propagated, spoil the strain of a nation. John Tillotson.

    According to the genius and strain of the book of Proverbs, the words wisdom and righteousness are used to signify all religion and virtue. John Tillotson, Sermons.

    In our liturgy are as great strains of true sublime eloquence, as are any where to be found in our language. Jonathan Swift.

    Macrobius speaks of Hippocrates’ knowlege in very lofty strains. Thomas Baker.

    Wilt thou love such a woman? what, to make thee an instrument, and play false strains upon thee. William Shakespeare.

    Orpheus self may heave his head
    From golden slumber on a bed
    Of heap’d Elysian flowers, and hear
    Such strains as would have won the ear
    Of Pluto, to have quite set free
    His half-regain’d Eurydice. John Milton.

    Their heav’nly harps a lower strain began,
    And in soft musick mourn the fall of man. Dryden.

    When the first bold vessel dar’d the seas,
    High on the stern the Thracian rais’d his strain,
    While Argo saw her kindred trees
    Descend from Pelion to the main. Alexander Pope, St. Cecilia.

    But thou who lately of the common strain,
    Wert one of us, if still thou do’st retain
    The same ill habits, the same follies too,
    Still thou art bound to vice, and still a slave. Dryden.

    Because hereticks have a strain of madness, he applied her with some corporal chastisements, which with respite of time might haply reduce her to good order. John Hayward.

    You have shew’d to-day your valiant strain,
    And fortune led you well. William Shakespeare, King Lear.

    Such take too high a strain at the first, and are magnanimous more than tract of years can uphold, as was Scipio Africanus, of whom Livy saith, ultima primis cedebant. Francis Bacon.

  2. To STRAINverb

    Etymology: estreindre, French.

    Their aliment ought to be light, rice boiled in whey and strained. John Arbuthnot, on Diet.

    Earth doth not strain water so finely as sand. Francis Bacon.

    I would have strain’d him with a strict embrace;
    But through my arms he slipt and vanish’d. Dryden.

    Old Evander, with a close embrace,
    Strain’d his departing friend; and tears o’erflow his face. John Dryden, Æneid.

    The jury make no more scruple to pass against an Englishman and the queen, though it be to strain their oaths, than to drink milk unstrained. Edmund Spenser, State of Ireland.

    Prudes decay’d about may tack,
    Strain their necks with looking back. Jonathan Swift.

    By this we see in a cause of religion, to how desperate adventures men will strain themselves for relief of their own part, having law and authority against them. Richard Hooker.

    Too well I wote my humble vaine,
    And how my rhimes been rugged and unkempt;
    Yet as I con my cunning I will strain. Edmund Spenser.

    Thus mine enemy fell,
    And thus I set my foot on’s neck; —— even then
    The princely blood flows in his cheek, he sweats,
    Strains his young nerves, and puts himself in posture
    That acts my words. William Shakespeare, Cymbeline.

    My earthly by his heavenly overpower’d,
    Which it had long stood under, strain’d to th’ height
    In that celestial colloquy sublime,
    As with an object that excels the sense,
    Dazled and spent, sunk down. John Milton, Parad. Lost.

    The lark and linnet sing with rival notes;
    They strain their warbling throats,
    To welcome in the spring. Dryden.

    Nor yet content, she strains her malice more,
    And adds new ills to those contriv’d before. Dryden.

    It is the worst sort of good husbandry for a father not to strain himself a little for his son’s breeding. John Locke.

    Our words flow from us in a smooth continued stream, without those strainings of the voice, motions of the body, and majesty of the hand, which are so much celebrated in the orators of Greece and Rome. Francis Atterbury.

    Strain’d to the root, the stooping forest pours
    A rustling shower of yet untimely leaves. James Thomson.

    A bigger string more strained, and a lesser string less strained, may fall into the same tone. Francis Bacon.

    Thou, the more he varies forms, beware
    To strain his fetters with a stricter care. John Dryden, Virgil.

    See they suffer death,
    But in their deaths remember they are men,
    Strain not the laws to make their torture grievous. Addison.

    There can be no other meaning in this expression, however some may pretend to strain it. Jonathan Swift.

    The lark sings so out of tune,
    Straining harsh discords and unpleasing strains. William Shakespeare.

    He talks and plays with Fatima, but his mirth
    Is forc’d and strain’d: in his looks appears
    A wild distracted fierceness. John Denham.

  3. To Strainverb

    To make violent efforts.

    To build his fortune I will strain a little,
    For ’tis a bond in men. William Shakespeare, Timon of Athens.

    You stand like greyhounds in the slips,
    Straining upon the start. William Shakespeare, Hen. V.

    They strain,
    That death may not them idly find t’ attend
    Their certain last, but work to meet their end. Daniel.

    Straining with too weak a wing,
    We needs will write epistles to the king. Alexander Pope.

    Cæsar thought that all sea sands had natural springs of fresh water: but it is the sea water; because the pit filled according to the measure of the tide, and the sea water passing or straining through the sands leaveth the saltness behind them. Francis Bacon.


  1. strain

    Strain generally refers to the measure of deformation representing the displacement between particles in a material body implying a deformational change in shape and size. However, its specific definition can vary across different fields: 1) In physics and engineering, strain refers to the extent of deformation experienced by a body in the direction of force applied, divided by the initial dimensions of the body. 2) In biology, strain refers to a genetic variant or subtype of a microorganism, such as a virus or bacteria. 3) In a general context, strain can refer to severe physical or mental pressure.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Strainnoun

    race; stock; generation; descent; family

  2. Strainnoun

    hereditary character, quality, or disposition

  3. Strainnoun

    rank; a sort

  4. Strainadjective

    to draw with force; to extend with great effort; to stretch; as, to strain a rope; to strain the shrouds of a ship; to strain the cords of a musical instrument

  5. Strainadjective

    to act upon, in any way, so as to cause change of form or volume, as forces on a beam to bend it

  6. Strainadjective

    to exert to the utmost; to ply vigorously

  7. Strainadjective

    to stretch beyond its proper limit; to do violence to, in the matter of intent or meaning; as, to strain the law in order to convict an accused person

  8. Strainadjective

    to injure by drawing, stretching, or the exertion of force; as, the gale strained the timbers of the ship

  9. Strainadjective

    to injure in the muscles or joints by causing to make too strong an effort; to harm by overexertion; to sprain; as, to strain a horse by overloading; to strain the wrist; to strain a muscle

  10. Strainadjective

    to squeeze; to press closely

  11. Strainadjective

    to make uneasy or unnatural; to produce with apparent effort; to force; to constrain

  12. Strainadjective

    to urge with importunity; to press; as, to strain a petition or invitation

  13. Strainadjective

    to press, or cause to pass, through a strainer, as through a screen, a cloth, or some porous substance; to purify, or separate from extraneous or solid matter, by filtration; to filter; as, to strain milk through cloth

  14. Strainverb

    to make violent efforts

  15. Strainverb

    to percolate; to be filtered; as, water straining through a sandy soil

  16. Strainnoun

    the act of straining, or the state of being strained

  17. Strainnoun

    a violent effort; an excessive and hurtful exertion or tension, as of the muscles; as, he lifted the weight with a strain; the strain upon a ship's rigging in a gale; also, the hurt or injury resulting; a sprain

  18. Strainnoun

    a change of form or dimensions of a solid or liquid mass, produced by a stress

  19. Strainnoun

    a portion of music divided off by a double bar; a complete musical period or sentence; a movement, or any rounded subdivision of a movement

  20. Strainnoun

    any sustained note or movement; a song; a distinct portion of an ode or other poem; also, the pervading note, or burden, of a song, poem, oration, book, etc.; theme; motive; manner; style; also, a course of action or conduct; as, he spoke in a noble strain; there was a strain of woe in his story; a strain of trickery appears in his career

  21. Strainnoun

    turn; tendency; inborn disposition. Cf. 1st Strain

  22. Etymology: [See Strene.]

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Strain

    strān, v.t. to stretch tight: to draw with force: to exert to the utmost: to injure by overtasking: to make tight: to constrain, make uneasy or unnatural: to press to one's self, to embrace: to pass through a filter.—v.i. to make violent efforts: to filter.—n. the act of straining: a violent effort: an injury inflicted by straining, esp. a wrenching of the muscles: a note, sound, or song, stretch of imagination, &c.: any change of form or bulk of a portion of matter either solid or fluid, the system of forces which sustains the strain being called the stress: mood, disposition.—ns. Strain′er, one who, or that which, strains: an instrument for filtration: a sieve, colander, &c.; Strain′ing, a piece of leather for stretching as a base for the seat of a saddle.—Strain a point, to make a special effort: to exceed one's duty; Strain at, in Matt. xxiii. 24, a misprint for Strain out. [O. Fr. straindre—L. stringĕre, to stretch tight. Cf. String and Strong.]

  2. Strain

    strān, n. race, stock, generation: descent: natural tendency, any admixture or element in one's character.—n. Strain′ing-beam, a tie-beam uniting the tops of the queen-posts. [M. E. streen—A.S. gestréon, gain; confused in M. E. with the related M. E. strend—A.S. strynd, lineage.]

The Standard Electrical Dictionary

  1. Strain

    The condition of a body when subjected to a stress. Various consequences may ensue from strain in the way of disturbance of electric and other qualities of the body strained.

Suggested Resources

  1. strain

    Song lyrics by strain -- Explore a large variety of song lyrics performed by strain on the Lyrics.com website.

Surnames Frequency by Census Records


    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Strain is ranked #3999 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

    The Strain surname appeared 8,883 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 3 would have the surname Strain.

    87% or 7,734 total occurrences were White.
    7.9% or 704 total occurrences were Black.
    1.9% or 177 total occurrences were of Hispanic origin.
    1.7% or 158 total occurrences were of two or more races.
    0.6% or 60 total occurrences were American Indian or Alaskan Native.
    0.5% or 50 total occurrences were Asian.

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'strain' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #4159

  2. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'strain' in Nouns Frequency: #1423

  3. Verbs Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'strain' in Verbs Frequency: #943

Anagrams for strain »

  1. instar

  2. santir

How to pronounce strain?

How to say strain in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of strain in Chaldean Numerology is: 7

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of strain in Pythagorean Numerology is: 9

Examples of strain in a Sentence

  1. Ding Jie:

    The recent spike in infections in the city can be attributed to the special location of the outbreak and the highly contagious nature of the( Delta) strain.

  2. Percy Bysshe Shelley:

    Rough wind, that moanest loudGrief too sad for songWild wind, when sullen cloudKnells all the night longSad storm, whose tears are vain,Bare woods, whose branches strain,Deep caves and dreary main, - Wail, for the world's wrong

  3. Stephen Harper:

    We are tracking this very closely. The system is clearly not under anywhere near the strain it was a year ago, but nevertheless we remain concerned. ... This is a major, major export for this country.

  4. Lee Jae-kwang:

    Adding jobs is the last thing on my mind. The steep increase in wages is a real financial strain for us.

  5. William Schaffner:

    We've had the dominance of H1N1 yield to now a dominance or at least an equivalence of H3N2, which means that the strain that causes more severe disease is actually producing a substantial amount of late season influenza this year.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for strain

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

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"strain." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 26 May 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/strain>.

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  • Milka Rindzinski Gulla
    Milka Rindzinski Gulla
    LikeReply7 years ago

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relating to or concerned with a city or densely populated area
A noninvasive
B urban
C disjointed
D profound

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