Definition of pain in English:



  • 1Highly unpleasant physical sensation caused by illness or injury:

    ‘she's in great pain’
    [count noun] ‘chest pains’
    • ‘But he has been left in agonising pain with serious injuries to his back, head and legs.’
    • ‘They endure physical pain and the constant possibility of a career-ending injury.’
    • ‘She is recovering at home from her injuries but still suffers pain when lifted, according to her family.’
    • ‘She was in constant pain and her physical movements were restricted.’
    • ‘Mr McLean said his illness caused pain and confusion for his family, friends and himself.’
    • ‘Patients and their physicians are familiar with acute pain or pain caused by injury.’
    • ‘Fibromyalgia is a chronic musculoskeletal illness of wide-spread pain and profound fatigue.’
    • ‘Too much rest, or attempts to shield the injured part of your back when you move for fear of pain or making the injury worse, may hinder recovery.’
    • ‘She added as an ex-nurse she believed it was hard to find the cause of pain or injury without an examination.’
    • ‘Since the accident at 12, my life had dissolved into pain, illness, weakness and exhaustion.’
    • ‘But he did not feel hungry because he was in such pain from his injuries and could only concentrate on trying to get out.’
    • ‘Her son Sean was born with a serious genetic disorder which means, among other things, that he can't feel physical pain.’
    • ‘One of his lawyers said the singer was still in pain from a back injury and would rest through the weekend.’
    • ‘Dr Tynan claims he has suffered extreme pain due to the injury which he blames on the negligence of the hotel.’
    • ‘Some of the people in the elders' ward are obviously in physical pain.’
    • ‘I'd like to think he wouldn't have left us if he hadn't also been in physical pain.’
    • ‘She was feeling the limits of her body and the pain of her wounds more surely than she could ever remember.’
    • ‘The accident dissolved my life into illness, weakness, pain and exhaustion, cold and hunger.’
    • ‘The first sign of decay may be a sensation of pain when eating something sweet, very cold or very hot.’
    • ‘She said: ‘His wife suffered chest pains and whiplash injuries.’’
    suffering, agony, affliction, torture, torment, discomfort, soreness
    ache, aching, soreness, hurt, throb, throbbing, smarting, pricking, sting, stinging, twinge, shooting pain, stab, pang, spasm
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  • 2Mental suffering or distress:

    ‘the pain of loss’
    sorrow, grief, heartache, heartbreak, sadness, unhappiness, distress, desolation, misery, wretchedness, despair, desperation, mental suffering, emotional suffering, trauma
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    1. 2.1informal An annoying or tedious person or thing:
      ‘she's a pain’
      ‘it's not a huge problem—just a bit of a pain’
      nuisance, pest, bother, vexation, irritant, source of annoyance, source of irritation, worry, problem, inconvenience, trial, tribulation, plague, source of aggravation, bore, thorn in the flesh, the bane of one's life
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  • 3painsGreat care or trouble:

    ‘she took pains to see that everyone ate well’
    • ‘While always judged in retrospect in terms of their ability to predict a result, pollsters are at pains to emphasise that their numbers should never be regarded as predictive.’
    • ‘However, the minister was at pains to stress the need for greater co-operation between third-level colleges if the fourth tier is to become a success.’
    • ‘They are at pains to state that this impasse has not been brought about by the demands of people in their profession, but is rather because of promises not kept.’
    • ‘He was at pains to stress that there won't be any pressure put on the newer members of the team, saying that he felt there had been ‘too much talk’ about some of them.’
    • ‘In friendship we are at pains to avoid the embarrassment of a dissident disclosure, so we make sure that we know before we play which of the three options the other will choose.’
    • ‘Mulder is at pains to point out that anti-depressants are very effective for those who suffer from severe or chronic depression.’
    • ‘Willie McSporran is chairman of the community council, although he is at pains to point out that this does not make his opinion more important than anyone else's.’
    • ‘White says no one could fail to understand the strategy, but is at pains to point out that making more money does not mean losing more jobs - quite the opposite.’
    • ‘Howard was at pains to point out, however, that the labour needed to run a system like his would not be available to the vast majority of farmers.’
    • ‘He was at pains to stress that his whole-hearted commitment to drawing in larger crowds with gate reductions and the acquisition of quality players seems to be in vain.’
    • ‘But she is at pains to point out that her books - many about gritty subjects such as divorce and adoption - are not a retelling of her own early years.’
    • ‘Taxidermists are at pains to point out that they merely preserve to ensure that humans' understanding of nature continues to grow.’
    • ‘Typically then he sat almost unobtrusively in a crowded dressingroom and when asked for comment was at pains to stress that the victory was down to a team effort.’
    • ‘But publicly at least, Parliament's senior media handlers are at pains to emphasise that they will show no favour.’
    • ‘The firm's advisers were at pains to claim that this was not a hostile move, but it is evident that the 810p per share price is not enough to satisfy investors.’
    • ‘He is at pains to stress that he isn't in any way critical of the quality of the work but he, like myself, feels that it ‘seems to be taking a very long time’.’
    • ‘The 44-year-old was at pains to defend his record at Coventry, claiming that with City he proved five years ago he can keep teams in the Premiership.’
    • ‘Several others were at pains to display warmth.’
    • ‘All three women were at pains to show the softer side of their husbands: romantic candle lit dinners, bunches of flowers, and tucking the kids into bed.’
    • ‘He is acutely aware the whole project will hinge on environmental considerations and was at pains to point out that the turbines were moveable and designed to allow for the natural ebb and flow of the tides.’
    try hard, make a great effort, make an effort, make every effort, spare no effort, take pains, take great pains, take care, put oneself out, apply oneself, exert oneself
    strive, endeavour, try, struggle, battle, labour, toil, strain, work, aim
    do one's best, do all one can, do one's utmost, give one's all, give it one's all, go all out
    bend over backwards, fall over backwards, lean over backwards, give it one's best shot
    care, effort, bother, trouble, labour, exertion, strain, struggle
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  • 1 Cause mental or physical pain to:

    ‘it pains me to say this’
    ‘her legs had been paining her’
    • ‘It pains me to even write this blog, it's so hard to write it when all these emotions of yours come into play, you want to remain calm, but you just can't seem to stop those tears from flowing down.’
    • ‘They had to find a way to get help - especially for Scott whose hip and leg were paining him something fierce in spite of his denial to his brother.’
    • ‘I had noticed him make the movement before, and wondered if perhaps an old wound pained him there.’
    • ‘Most of the staff know me by name and rush to greet me with a kiss on each cheek when I arrive, so it pains me to report, therefore, that I find Bastille's food is often quite average, sometimes even worse.’
    • ‘He looked fine, but it was obvious that he was wincing as he walked and that his right leg was paining him.’
    • ‘As much as it pains me to admit this, I too was a teenager once.’
    • ‘Muttonhead's condition was still nudging him in the back, and it pained him more than any physical scar he had incurred.’
    • ‘I have always tried to keep up my existing friendship networks, and it really pains me to realise that perhaps I don't have much in common with my old friends anymore.’
    • ‘He was almost physically pained by rigid doctrinal systems, and mildly revolted by the idea of discipleship.’
    • ‘Lain's eyes completely washed over with emotions and for some reason it pained her physically for she had never ever felt any kind of emotions but anger.’
    • ‘It pains me to have people worrying unnecessarily.’
    • ‘One can't always be up-beat… but never mind that, it pains me for there to be so much stress and issues…’
    • ‘She seemed okay with the direction of the conversation, but it looked as if something physically pained her.’
    • ‘It pains me to the core every time I have to write to you about this debilitating but curable illness called bipolar disorder, also known as clinical depression.’
    • ‘As she grasped hold of a rail, her mind seemed to haze as her wounds were pained by every push and shove.’
    • ‘Having dominated the TV ratings and achieved commercial success, he is now looking to projects that have some artistic weight - although it pains him slightly to say this.’
    • ‘His leg pained him more than he was willing to admit, and his side was sending small sharp jabs of discomfort as if to remind him of its presence.’
    • ‘Later he retired because his wounds pained him, but he spent the last year of the war on a privateer attacking British shipping.’
    • ‘It physically pains me to give away the money which makes me feel comfortable and stable in this life.’
    • ‘He was pained by the abject poverty and the trouble women had to undergo to fetch water for the families.’
    sadden, grieve, distress, make miserable, make wretched, trouble, worry, bother, perturb, disturb, oppress, harrow, cause anguish to, afflict
    hurt, cause pain, be painful, be sore, ache, throb, smart, burn, prickle, sting, pinch, twinge, cause discomfort, be tender
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    1. 1.1North American [no object] (of a part of the body) hurt:
      ‘sometimes my right hand would pain’
      • ‘Sazar's face became pained and he stood up, starting towards Zax.’
      • ‘His head spun and his body pained in various areas until he was forced to lie once again and sit up with a slower pace.’
      • ‘I moved slowly, feeling soft fabric around me, though my body pained me.’
      • ‘I wanted to see it so much my chest ached and pained with the frustration.’


Middle English (in the sense ‘suffering inflicted as punishment for an offence’): from Old French peine, from Latin poena penalty, later pain.