Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To compel by physical, moral, or circumstantial force; oblige: felt constrained to object. See Synonyms at force.
  • transitive v. To keep within close bounds; confine: a life that had been constrained by habit to the same few activities and friends.
  • transitive v. To inhibit or restrain; hold back: "Failing to control the growth of international debt will also constrain living standards” ( Ronald Brownstein).
  • transitive v. To produce in a forced or inhibited manner.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. to force physically, by strong persuasion or pressurizing; to compel; to oblige
  • v. to keep within close bounds; to confine
  • v. to reduce a result in response to limited resources

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To secure by bonds; to chain; to bond or confine; to hold tightly; to constringe.
  • transitive v. To bring into a narrow compass; to compress.
  • transitive v. To hold back by force; to restrain; to repress.
  • transitive v. To compel; to force; to necessitate; to oblige.
  • transitive v. To violate; to ravish.
  • transitive v. To produce in such a manner as to give an unnatural effect.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In general, to exert force, physical or moral, upon, either in urging to action or in restraining from it; press; urge; drive; restrain.
  • Hence To urge with irresistible power, or with a force sufficient to produce the effect; compel; necessitate; oblige.
  • To confine or hold by force; restrain from escape or action; repress or compress; bind.
  • To check; repress; hinder; deter.
  • To force.
  • In mech.: To prevent the occurrence of (motion), except in a particular direction: as, the relative motions of the parts of any machine are always constrained.
  • To prevent the operation of the motion of (a material point or body), except in a particular and definite manner: as, to constrain a part of a mechanism.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. hold back
  • v. restrict

Etymologies

Middle 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.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle French constraindre, ultimately from Latin constringō. Compare French contraindre. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Even with the targeted procurement it is not enough to develop and empower women owned businesses, another constrain is the supply side.

    SPEECH BY MAMPE RAMOTSAMAI DURING A PUBLIC WORKS BUDGET VOTE DEBATE

  • The Obama administration's new nuclear arms reduction agreement with Russia has been beset by a chorus of conservative claims that it will "constrain" U.S. efforts to develop missile defenses, in the words of Charles Krauthammer, among many others.

    Missile Defense and Arms Reduction

  • The Association must so present its work to the churches as to "constrain" them to give; drag them by the chains of Christian duty to give; those who can of their abundance abundantly; those who must of their penury, with this tremendous self-sacrifice.

    The American Missionary — Volume 43, No. 01, January, 1889

  • But He delights to be held by beseeching hands, and our wishes 'constrain' Him.

    Expositions of Holy Scripture St. Luke

  • It will lay on you a far more solemn and awful clutch, and like a jailer with his hand on the culprit's shoulder, will 'constrain' you into the presence of the Judge.

    Expositions of Holy Scripture: the Acts

  • "We kind of constrain ourselves in a way to come up with different solutions to different problems."

    Purchasing - Top Stories

  • However, the Government did not want to "constrain" the commission from considering other options, including a compulsory levy.

    icCoventry

  • Murphy O'Connor said that there would soon be a battle over euthanasia and although the Prime Minister's personal convictions were with the reactionary religious leaders, he often felt the need to "constrain" them.

    NSS News

  • I guess the reaction that people seemed to have to that was just would this kind of constrain the number of programs that might qualify for this because I guess most of us thought they would make it as broad as possible just to help maximize the impact from a liquidity perspective.

    SeekingAlpha.com: Home Page

  • "constrain" spiritual minds, to "live no longer to themselves, but to him who hath died for them."

    A Practical Enquiry into the Philosophy of Education

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