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

  • n. The threat or use of force to prevent, restrict, or dictate the action or thought of others.
  • n. The state of being restricted or confined within prescribed bounds: soon tired of the constraint of military life.
  • n. One that restricts, limits, or regulates; a check: ignored all moral constraints in his pursuit of success.
  • n. Embarrassed reserve or reticence; awkwardness: "All constraint had vanished between the two, and they began to talk” ( Edith Wharton).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Something that constrains.
  • n. A condition that a solution to an optimization problem must satisfy.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of constraining, or the state of being constrained; that which compels to, or restrains from, action; compulsion; restraint; necessity.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Irresistible force, or its effect; any force or power, physical or moral, which compels to act or to forbear action; compulsion; coercion; restraint.
  • n. Specifically Repression of emotion, or of the expression of one's thoughts and feelings; hence, embarrassment: as, he spoke with constraint.
  • n. In analytical mechanics, the product of the mass of a particle into the square of that velocity which, compounded with the velocity the particle would have if free, would give the actual velocity.
  • n. Synonyms Violence, necessity, coercion. See force, n.

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

  • n. the state of being physically constrained
  • n. a device that retards something's motion
  • n. the act of constraining; the threat or use of force to control the thoughts or behavior of others


Middle English constreinte, from Old French, from feminine past participle of constraindre, to constrain; see constrain.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English, from Middle French constrainte, from verb constraindre (French: contraindre). (Wiktionary)



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.