Main definitions of strain in English

: strain1strain2

strain1

verb

  • 1[with object] Force (a part of one's body or oneself) to make an unusually great effort:

    ‘I stopped and listened, straining my ears for any sound’
    • ‘They could do much more to help guard the West without straining themselves.’
    • ‘I strain myself to make each song a distinctive experience.’
    • ‘You do not want to strain yourself walking quickly and forcing your body to pump blood faster in these temperatures.’
    • ‘He must have strained himself yesterday on a long walk, or too much running around; by day's end he couldn't get up on the bed, and today he's in pain.’
    • ‘You kept straining yourself to hide those emotions from everyone.’
    • ‘You should feel tension in your upper back but don't strain yourself.’
    • ‘He just could not understand how I could dance, straining myself.’
    • ‘But don't strain yourselves getting out of your new squad car.’
    • ‘He cries weakly, the effort clearly straining his feeble body.’
    • ‘No one is straining himself; indeed, Noah is having a nap, perhaps exhausted by the very thought of the strenuous timetable drawn up for him.’
    • ‘Anyone who forgot to bring the radio had to stand or strain themselves to listen to the game on somebody else's radio.’
    • ‘If you overdo it and strain yourself, you may become discouraged.’
    • ‘What you do need to do is give a positive impression while not straining yourself in trying to impress him/her.’
    • ‘When one strained oneself to listen to the speaker one could make out that some important male writers were speaking in generalities.’
    • ‘Of course I get people with pulled muscles from playing football, but it's also not unusual for me to deal with someone who has tripped up at home and strained themselves.’
    • ‘The fact is that he had a huge capacity for understanding the minutiae of problems without effort so he did not need to strain himself.’
    • ‘I'd seen him check it once, seeing if it was empty enough to pick up without straining himself and still full enough to make a resounding crunch and splash as the top came off.’
    • ‘Don't bother straining yourself thinking about it; I know it's hard for you to see past your own needs.’
    • ‘‘You could clearly see that when Bette lifted Joan off the bed she was straining herself,’ said Gary.’
    • ‘She had taken a month off so she could heal without straining herself.’
    1. 1.1[no object] Make an unusually great effort:
      ‘his voice was so quiet that I had to strain to hear it’
      • ‘Teachers who use the system feel less stressed and tired at the end of the day and their students don't have to strain to hear.’
      • ‘I strain to hear and then grin, resisting the temptation to say ‘eh’?’
      • ‘But I also tilted my head a lot, like a cat straining to hear a really weird sound.’
      • ‘Be quiet and excuse me; I am straining to hear a conversation and you are making it difficult for me to catch all of it.’
      • ‘Scores of people stood around in the darkened gallery straining to hear every word of the amazing, passionate reading.’
      • ‘I sat on the bed shivering, straining to hear their conversation, but they were too far down the hall and speaking too softly anyway.’
      • ‘Ryda leaned forward, straining to hear the conversation.’
      • ‘But an outer layer of the public also surrounded him, straining to hear every word uttered by the man.’
      • ‘I can't stop myself, and I hear my voice straining, on the verge of cracking, but I can't stop that either.’
      • ‘First of all, she's a mumbler, so I really have to strain to hear her.’
      • ‘He strains to hear something recognizable, but the fog and the sea muffle everything.’
      • ‘David was jangling his change so frantically you had to strain to hear what anyone was saying.’
      • ‘She lay frozen on the bed for a moment, straining to hear, above the moaning of the wind, the human sounds that she knew must be present in the room.’
      • ‘This results in straining to hear what was asked.’
      • ‘He turned his attention to the duo at the fire, straining forward to hear…’
      • ‘Because I was taking notes and straining to hear what was being said on the tape, I didn't necessarily realise what was being said.’
      • ‘Her voice was soft and low and we'd have to strain to hear her.’
      • ‘And after straining to hear it, I realised that it sounded familiar.’
      • ‘Rather than my having to strain to hear their words as I read, I have the pleasure of being a kind of spectator - of hearing them recite their tales, as it were.’
      • ‘She whispered so softly that Heart had to strain to hear.’
      struggle, labour, toil, make a supreme effort, make every effort, spare no effort, strain every nerve, try very hard, strive, break one's back, drive oneself to the limit, push oneself to the limit, do one's best
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Injure (a limb, muscle, or organ) by overexerting it:
      ‘on cold days you are more likely to strain a muscle’
      ‘glare from the screen can strain your eyes’
      • ‘But because Gandy has favored the muscle, it has partially torn his right biceps and strained another muscle.’
      • ‘Spring is the season for groin pulls - that is, straining the adductor muscles that run along the inside of your thighs.’
      • ‘With the flanker off, the Wallabies sensed an edge and probed a defence that had not been strengthened by the addition of Iain Balshaw after Matt Perry strained a muscle.’
      • ‘The doc put our minds at rest and said the blood was probably from muscles being strained whilst retching but he was de-hydrated and would need to be admitted.’
      • ‘Anyway, I'm home from work this week because I've strained my muscles under my left ribs and it has only been getting worse.’
      • ‘I had somehow managed to strain a muscle in my leg while attempting to dance.’
      • ‘The more common of these include spraining or tearing one or more ligaments, tearing the meniscus or straining a tendon or muscle.’
      • ‘Then if you can inform and entertain the reader at the same time - without straining a muscle - all the better.’
      • ‘But alas in practice they are usually so huge that you inevitably strain a minor muscle or two moving your arm to look at the data.’
      • ‘He struck out four and walked one in his first outing since June 22, when he strained his left oblique muscle.’
      • ‘I need to have wheels installed on this thing, she thought, straining her arm muscles and knocking her knees against its bulk as she walked.’
      • ‘Henrik Larsson, in particular, sprung to meet a dead ball by the Englishman and seemed to strain every neck muscle as he jerked the ball goalwards and prompted Paul Gallacher to tip it over the crossbar.’
      • ‘One of the athletes was placed on the injured list after straining his left quadriceps.’
      • ‘I squealed in pain, having strained a muscle in my leg.’
      • ‘Aberfeldie last year learned the cost of attacking through one player when Minton-Connell strained his thigh muscle in the warm-up before the grand final.’
      • ‘Britain's victory hopes took a setback during the warm-up when the penalty corner specialist Ben Hawes strained a calf muscle and was replaced by Jerome Goudie.’
      • ‘Zaheer strained his muscle in the right leg this morning and was ruled out for the rest of the ongoing Test.’
      • ‘The Ulsterman claims to have strained a thigh muscle last week while fishing - strange but true.’
      • ‘He tore a ligament in his thumb during spring training, then strained a muscle in his side on May 31 during his first rehab stint.’
      • ‘He strove so hard to rival Holding that he strained stomach muscles in the Kingston Test against England in 1981.’
      injure, hurt, damage, impair
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 Make severe or excessive demands on:
      ‘he strained her tolerance to the limit’
      • ‘Of course services are strained and we have to find solutions.’
      • ‘Treatment should not strain available resources, and most of all it should do no harm to the patient.’
      • ‘The Habsburg Monarchy was strained by the demands of different nationalities for autonomy.’
      • ‘Fort McMurray infrastructure and services are strained by the shadow population according to a survey.’
      • ‘This strains housing stock levels for future generations.’
      • ‘Indonesia's large and growing population continues to strain national resources.’
      • ‘If you need a good web-mail client that won't strain your resources, this is one you'll want to take a look at.’
      • ‘The scheme will provide 40 affordable homes and three playgrounds as well as hundreds of new neighbours who many fear will strain local resources.’
      • ‘The groundwater resources have been severely strained by over-use.’
      • ‘In the era of the Internet, the efficacy of the name suppression orders was always going to be severely strained, but some online publishers took the issue seriously.’
      • ‘Exporting can strain a company's resources and staff.’
      • ‘But it will strain its ability to pick the right locations to get that boost.’
      • ‘Mpofu said the growth of Bulawayo and the current economic situation have strained resources to cope with distressed calls.’
      • ‘But the truce has been severely strained by nightly fighting between the two sides.’
      • ‘Relations between Chicago and Britain have been severely strained by the announcement, coming as it does weeks before an election.’
      • ‘The volume of these ethnic groups plus black migrants strained social services to the breaking point.’
      • ‘Adding an additional 300 does not strain our resources.’
      • ‘And they're straining the resources of international institutions who have responsibility for finding solutions.’
      • ‘Police say their service is thoroughly strained.’
      • ‘Rapid population increases are not only straining this country's resources; they're also changing the way we live.’
      overtax, overwork, overburden, overextend, overreach, overtask, make too many demands on, run oneself into the ground, work oneself into the ground, exert excessively, drive too far, exert to the limit, push to the limit
      make severe demands on, make excessive demands on, overtax, be too much for
      View synonyms
    4. 1.4[no object] Pull or push forcibly at something:
      ‘the bear strained at the chain around its neck’
      ‘his stomach was swollen, straining against the thin shirt’
      • ‘My somewhat rusty culinary skills creaked and groaned like a wooden ship straining against high winds.’
      • ‘It uses the pressure points on the shih-tzu's nose and head to apply pressure which stops the shih-tzu from pulling, jumping and straining against the leash.’
      • ‘‘Get on the ship,’ she replied, her voice straining against the wind and rain.’
      • ‘Suddenly the beam was withdrawn and Cecil, who had been straining against it, overbalanced and fell flat on his face onto the now icy cold carpeting.’
      • ‘The whole sled shook as they strained at the traces.’
      • ‘Suddenly there is a stir and, frozen feet forgotten, binoculars are focused on a small brown blob and a man with two slim, keen dogs straining against their twin collars.’
      • ‘Fenix jerked, straining against the cord - he wanted to murder the man!’
      • ‘The waves pounded the ship and the crew strained at the pumps, but it seemed a hopeless task.’
      • ‘The family dog Jasper, a brown spotted Dalmatian, strained at his lead as master and family passed by.’
      • ‘He pulls her back towards him, straining against her.’
      • ‘Slowly her chin dropped to her chest as she put all the physical power she could into steadily straining against the ropes looped around her wrists and ankles.’
      • ‘Nika stood up as her captive yanked and strained at the glittering strand that leashed her, shoulders bunching and teeth bared.’
      • ‘But Ibsen himself thought her brave and true to her exceptional self, straining against the suffocation of modern life.’
      • ‘And then Jimjim suddenly convulsed, straining against his chains.’
      • ‘The doomed tanker was hauled out to sea by tugs straining against the winds and tide.’
      • ‘One newspaper's letter bag strained at the seams with an unprecedented flood of missives from angry readers.’
      • ‘But the escalation of repression requires more and more troops, and the military is already straining against the limitations of a volunteer army.’
      • ‘No matter how he twisted and pulled, straining against the straps, he could not free himself.’
      • ‘Mack stopped straining against his grip, and relaxed.’
      • ‘They fell into the bed, straining against each other.’
      pull, tug, heave, haul, jerk
      View synonyms
    5. 1.5 Stretch (something) tightly:
      ‘the barbed wire fence was strained to posts six feet high’
      • ‘For the most part the structure is strained tightly together, and decorated, by spidery cross braces.’
      • ‘It originally used as transmitting antenna a cage aerial, which was strained between two 60 meters tall wood towers.’
      • ‘During these works transmitting took place with the help of an antenna which was strained between the other tower and a small wood mast.’
    6. 1.6archaic Embrace (someone) tightly:
      ‘she strained the infant to her bosom again’
      • ‘When she blinked, she saw the boy fall down and the mother straining him and beating at him.’
      • ‘I felt his arms straining me, could hear his laughter near me, could smell his stench.’
  • 2[with object] Pour (a mainly liquid substance) through a porous or perforated device or material in order to separate out any solid matter:

    ‘strain the custard into a bowl’
    • ‘Remove from the heat and leave to cool, then strain the stock through a fine sieve, reserving the ham hock on one side.’
    • ‘I experimented with reducing leftover dried clay scraps to the consistency of slip and strained the mixture to remove lumps.’
    • ‘Then strain the cloudy water from the rice - this removes most of the starch.’
    • ‘This process is repeated one more time before the mixture is strained through an empty cotton bag to remove the husks.’
    • ‘Once the concentration is strong, strain the mixture, then place strips of paper in the water and simmer until most of the water is evaporated.’
    • ‘Wood-grain areas of the car can be polished with a mixture of equal parts strained lemon juice and olive oil.’
    • ‘In the morning of Day 6, I strained the wine into a pan for the final step: mixing in honey and vodka.’
    • ‘Then let it cool and strain the mixture through cheesecloth.’
    • ‘I strained the cream and milk mixture to get rid of the twigs - but reincorporated some of the zest and thyme leaves - and beat it into the eggs and sugar.’
    • ‘Line a colander or sieve with a couple of layers of cheesecloth and strain the soup.’
    • ‘Simmer for 10 minutes, leave to cool and then strain the mixture through a sieve into a large jug.’
    • ‘The milk is then strained and the grains recovered for reuse.’
    • ‘Slowly strain the butter through a fine sieve into a clean pan, leaving the sediment behind.’
    • ‘Soak tamarind in 1 ½ cups of water, squeeze well and strain the juice.’
    • ‘After the third and final straining the ale should be ready to drink.’
    • ‘Remove and set aside for 10 minutes, then strain the oil and combine with the remaining olive oil; discard the garlic.’
    • ‘Remove from the heat and strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl.’
    • ‘To finish, strain the infused milk into a clean saucepan, add the breadcrumbs and whisk over a medium heat for two to three minutes until thickened.’
    • ‘Binding glutens were added, and the mixture was strained through a large-holed colander into boiling water.’
    • ‘Drain in a colander set over a bowl, then shell the mussels before straining the juice carefully through a double muslin or chinois.’
    1. 2.1 Cause liquid to drain off (food which has been boiled, soaked, or canned) by using a porous or perforated device:
      ‘she turned to the sink to strain the noodles’
      • ‘For instance, canned chicken and tuna can be strained to remove a significant amount of sodium.’
      • ‘Add almost all of the remaining berries and strain the fruit, keeping all the juices.’
      • ‘With a piece of netting they strained the rice into buckets while I held the torch.’
      • ‘When you're ready to start cooking, strain the beef, reserving the marinade and the other ingredients.’
      • ‘If excess water remains after cooking, strain the grains.’
      • ‘Simmer for five minutes, then remove from heat and strain all ingredients.’
      • ‘These plates are used to strain food from the water.’
      • ‘The leaves of the elder can also be boiled and strained to make an insecticidal spray.’
      • ‘To get really thick yoghurt, the consistency of cream cheese, I strain the set stuff by pouring it into a piece of muslin and hanging it from a rod suspended over the sink.’
      • ‘The coconut is grated, strained and boiled to extract its oil.’
      • ‘The first wax to be used was animal fat which was boiled and strained till it turned to tallow and then had scents added to it to disguise the smell.’
      • ‘Mix some strained papaya human baby food with this, but omit adding additional vitamins or minerals.’
      • ‘Now granny decided that we should not get either hives or boils so in the early spring we had to go and get some young nettles which she then boiled and strained.’
      • ‘Right whales are large baleen whales, meaning that instead of teeth they have bonelike plates, which they use to strain food from large gulps of water.’
      • ‘The malt is then boiled, strained, and incubated with yeast.’
      • ‘Remove from the heat and serve as it is or strain the leaves and potato into a food processor.’
      • ‘That evening, as she took the rice gruel to the cowshed after straining the cooked rice, she screamed out in terror.’
      sieve, sift, filter, screen, riddle, separate
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2 Drain (liquid) off food by using a porous or perforated device:
      ‘strain off the surplus fat’
      • ‘First thing they had seen on arriving at the base of the rock was a partly crumbled brick wall and beside it a clay water pot with a piece of old yellow robe used to strain the water.’
      • ‘Follow the instructions given above, but the plant will grow so every third time you strain off the liquid, give away or throw away half the plant.’
      • ‘This is the most successful part of the recipe. You strain the mussel liquid into a bowl, wipe out your pot, then re-add the liquid and bring it to a boil.’
      • ‘Add seasoning and simmer on a low heat with a tight fitting lid to create a rich stock. Once the stock is ready, strain the liquid off and set aside.’
      • ‘Peel a medium cucumber, purée it in your blender for 10 seconds, and strain the water out.’
      • ‘Then strain the liquid into the sink, leaving the vermouth-flavored ice in the shaker.’
      • ‘After about three weeks strain off the liquid and water it around the roots of the plants.’
      • ‘After two hours, carefully strain the oil by using unbleached muslin (usually available at fabric stores).’
      • ‘It is at this point that you would want to strain off the residual liquid.’
      • ‘Let the water stand overnight, then strain the liquid into a spray bottle.’

noun

  • 1A force tending to pull or stretch something to an extreme or damaging degree:

    ‘the usual type of chair puts an enormous strain on the spine’
    [mass noun] ‘aluminium may bend under strain’
    • ‘The back analysis of the results of measuring the distribution of strains and forces along the anchor was done in order to optimise the choice of anchor zone length.’
    • ‘The structure of the ligamenta flava enables them to be stretched to high strains without damage.’
    • ‘Repetitive strain injuries are examined with a look at alternative treatments.’
    • ‘In addition to the pull of Jupiter's gravity, Io also feels the strain from the gravitational fields of Jupiter's other large moons.’
    • ‘Repetitive strain injuries are thought to be the result of tasks such as typing or even picking up the phone repeatedly.’
    • ‘The wind filled the sails and the ropes creaked and stretched with the strain as the ship ploughed through the waves splashing the surf at her bows and leaving a white trail behind.’
    • ‘Just by holding the clutch down I could see how hard it is to hold the car; I can imagine how hard it would be to hold the car when the car is under the strain of the centrifugal loading.’
    • ‘The big question is how long his ageing body can stand the strain.’
    • ‘The walls were bending as much as they could, but it was an enormous strain on them nonetheless.’
    • ‘It appears that the strain on his body was too much, and that restricting himself to one day games was all he had the strength and fitness to do.’
    • ‘Women are healthy when they're pregnant when they're young but at our age that's too much of a strain on our body and leaves us open to a host of diseases.’
    • ‘The results are consistent with the predictions of continuum elasticity theory for the strain of a point source subject to an applied force.’
    • ‘In the sensors, small acoustic vibrations or environmental strains induce frequency and intensity modulations.’
    • ‘The strain of the horse pulling on his mouth and gums was painful, but he ignored it.’
    • ‘Skiing put a big strain on my body, but he got me to do way more than I thought I could do.’
    • ‘This structure enables the high extensibility of elastic fibers to be exploited but protects them from damage at high strains.’
    • ‘Essentially, it was a term used in engineering to describe the effect of a mechanical force that placed strain or pressure on an object.’
    • ‘What is the impact of stresses and strains from external forces on our practice field?’
    • ‘Stress is defined as a condition that puts a physical strain on the body.’
    • ‘His legs were so thin however that Catherad was sure that they would snap under the enormous strain.’
    tension, tightness, tautness, shear, distension
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 An injury to a part of the body caused by overexertion:
      ‘he has a slight groin strain’
      • ‘Last year he struggled with groin strains for most of the year and was never operating at full fitness.’
      • ‘The most common snow injuries are strains, sprains and fractures.’
      • ‘Durcan has a groin strain, while Brehony is troubled by a hamstring injury.’
      • ‘Two years ago he played on with a groin strain, ended up with a hernia and missed out on the Ashes tour.’
      • ‘In addition to testing for any strains and other injuries it is therefore crucial to assess for any changes, and their causes, in the somatic tissues.’
      • ‘One by one, they staggered to the podium, like footballers with groin strains.’
      • ‘We will have to see whether it's just a groin strain or a hernia.’
      • ‘Repetitive strain injury occurs when the movable parts of the limbs are injured.’
      • ‘A recent study concluded that maintaining constant glycine levels might prevent sports injuries such as muscle strains and sprains.’
      • ‘Yoga students who push themselves too far without proper supervision risk suffering painful injuries and strains.’
      • ‘Carey is troubled with a calf injury, while O'Hara has a groin strain.’
      • ‘The new automobile insurance system includes a limit of $4,000 on pain and suffering awards for a minor injury such as a strain, sprain or minor whiplash.’
      • ‘The majority of injuries in a primary care setting are soft tissue injuries (sprains, strains, and contusions).’
      • ‘The most common types of sports injuries are sprains and strains.’
      • ‘Hours of peak time are cleared to discuss groin strains.’
      • ‘A broad range of injury types was found to occur at each of these sites, except in the groin, for which the 12 injuries reported were exclusively strains.’
      • ‘‘During the game I got a groin strain and I've never really recovered,’ he explained.’
      • ‘Chronic knee injuries include things like strains, sprains and tendinitis.’
      • ‘Neck injuries or strains often result in painful inflammation.’
      • ‘Hayes missed the victory over Thornhill with a hamstring strain but the injury has been responding to treatment.’
    2. 1.2Physics The magnitude of a deformation, equal to the change in the dimension of a deformed object divided by its original dimension.
      • ‘At relatively low shear strains, deformation is apparent from the slight deformation of strain markers, such as the overturning of ice-wedge casts.’
      • ‘In this paper we present new quantitative data on strain, deformation temperatures and vorticity of flow at the top of the Greater Himalayan Slab.’
      • ‘This is achieved by choosing a material with a large elastic modulus, a low density and a large value of the maximum allowable strain before permanent deformation occurs.’
      • ‘Two possible causes have been argued to explain this feature for limestone deformed to high shear strains.’
      • ‘The c-maximum fabric normal to foliation is typical of calcite rocks deformed experimentally to high strains in simple shear.’
  • 2A severe or excessive demand on the strength, resources, or abilities of someone or something:

    ‘the accusations put a strain on relations between the two countries’
    [mass noun] ‘she's under considerable strain’
    • ‘This was round-the-clock flying and it put a strain on the maintenance crews.’
    • ‘Negative self-talk puts a tremendous strain on both the body and self-esteem.’
    • ‘Overweight and obese people are at far greater risk of a number of illnesses, including diabetes and heart disease, and an ever fatter population will put a strain on healthcare resources.’
    • ‘Downturn in the fertiliser market coupled with rising production costs and wet weather has put a strain on the industry.’
    • ‘I can't keep my mind focused for hour after hour and my body won't take the strain for so long, either.’
    • ‘This has put a strain on our long-distant communication.’
    • ‘A source insisted there was a 25 per cent turnout of estate police on Friday and noted that this had put a strain on their on-duty colleagues.’
    • ‘Though the two part ways, marry and have children, they eventually start meeting again, and their relationship starts to put a strain on their lives.’
    • ‘It is this population boom that has put a strain on the land resource in Zambia creating a breeding ground for desertification.’
    • ‘By contrast my legs - while not being exactly underdeveloped - are not accustomed to taking the strain of my upper body without locking at the knees for extra support.’
    • ‘The city has had to find alternative accommodation for those rendered homeless by the process, thus putting a further strain on its already stretched budget.’
    • ‘The resultant dengue outbreaks place severe strains on public hospitals, with wards filled to overflowing with patients.’
    • ‘Just casting it once can be a real strain on the body.’
    • ‘‘I thought you said that it put a terrible strain on your body,’ Shadia said.’
    • ‘This modification, while it suits the owner perfectly, put a strain on my ability to shoot small 25 yard groups.’
    • ‘The Federation for American Immigration Reform says the increase has put a strain on city and state budgets.’
    • ‘Even with plans to import labour from neighbouring countries, Government's plans will continue to put a strain on already stretched resources.’
    • ‘The physical strain on Jones' body was incredible.’
    • ‘Because Zak can't swallow he needs his teeth cleaning under anaesthetic every six months but doctors fear the procedures are starting to put a strain on his weak chest.’
    • ‘Weight lifting places great strains on both body and mind.’
    pressure, demands, burdens, exertions
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1[mass noun] A state of tension or exhaustion resulting from severe demands on one's strength or resources:
      ‘the telltale signs of nervous strain’
      • ‘The national association was under severe strain last year.’
      • ‘Exhaustion, strain and tension are what hit you.’
      • ‘Recently McGregor's relationship with the press has also shown signs of strain.’
      • ‘The opening night performance showed signs of strain as Doyle flubbed some lines, performance energy dipped and Scottish accents slipped in and out of authentic focus.’
      • ‘I think everyone I know is suffering from that mental strain.’
      • ‘The social fabric is already showing signs of strain.’
      • ‘But what she has put under severe strain is the exchange of intelligence between the US and the UK on which the joint war against terrorism depends.’
      • ‘Social factors, such as affluence and population growth, add further demand and strain on recreation opportunities.’
      • ‘This constant state of alert places high tension and strain on staff.’
      • ‘As the first week passed by so did some strain and tension on the couple's relationship.’
      • ‘‘Mental strain is a lot lower in a marriage,’ says Oswald.’
      • ‘The release of the body from the tension and strain of work may be understood as a natural physical response to fatigue.’
      • ‘But the fighting began last week without that help, and several days into the war, the amity between the two nations is under severe strain.’
      • ‘All of these common heritage resources are under tremendous strain as corporations seek to privatize and commodify them.’
      • ‘She asked quietly, her dirt and coal smudged face showed signs of strain and fatigue where it wasn't hidden by darkness.’
      • ‘A report carried out at University College Dublin has found that a quarter of primary teachers have fatigue and strain caused by voice problems.’
      • ‘Moreover, these protectionist initiatives have surfaced at a time when the global trading system is already under severe strain.’
      • ‘But when both are focused on taking, then the dynamic is pulling in opposite directions - creating strain and tension.’
      • ‘Souness's relationship with Yorke has shown clear signs of strain during recent weeks, prompting speculation linking the former Manchester United star with a move to Wolves.’
      • ‘Many marriages today are experiencing severe strain but that does not mean that the only solution is to eventually put an end to it by resorting to divorce.’
      stress, tension, nervous tension, anxiety
      View synonyms
  • 3usually strainsThe sound of a piece of music:

    ‘the distant strains of the brass band grew louder’
    • ‘While there are only a few strains of music throughout the game, such as the familiar success theme when a mission has been completed, the ambient sound effects truly shine in this game.’
    • ‘Inside, we're surrounded by leather and walnut and soft strains of classical music.’
    • ‘At the first strains of music, children scurried towards the makeshift theatre - a podium surrounded by steel poles draped with black cloth to make a dramatic backdrop.’
    • ‘The air is moist and moss-scented, and you slide your fingers along the slick castle stones as you're pulled by faint strains of music that sound vaguely familiar.’
    • ‘In the Kiev Sports Palace gymnasium I watched Larissa go through her paces to the strains of music by Tchaikovsky.’
    • ‘The strains of music played, the words came up, and we cheered as one.’
    • ‘With women taking part in all branches of war work, to the front came the cowgirls riding to the strains of martial music, the American flag held high, and the show is on!’
    • ‘A fan turns slowly overhead, keeping time with the strains of Latino music.’
    • ‘By then, they had already reached the auditorium, and strains of beautiful piano music wafted to their ears.’
    • ‘Baraka here is particularly interested in the differing timbres or tones that the two strains of music produced.’
    • ‘She stopped complaining when she heard the first strains of classical music.’
    • ‘Somewhere musicians were still rehearsing for later, and the vague strains of music allowed him to make such a move without any culpability.’
    • ‘In the background, strains of Latin music blend with sounds of sizzling from the kitchen to create an uplifting, cheerful atmosphere.’
    • ‘Take to the countryside to enjoy the soothing strains of classical music at this highbrow summer fest.’
    • ‘This last sequence was accompanied by the heartrending strains of Pablo Casals playing a Spanish folk song on the cello.’
    • ‘The hum of chattering voices floated through the still air, accompanied by the faint strains of music.’
    • ‘Haunting strains of ethereal music introduced stunningly bright, clear, and artistic opening credits.’
    • ‘Their sound has expanded from the punk-rock base to include Celtic and country-and-western strains and contemporary dance music.’
    • ‘Once the first strains of piped music had swept over me, it was as if we had never been away.’
    • ‘Just a few yards away from the mahal, the strains of Carnatic music emanate from a small shrine.’
    • ‘I hated the voice from behind me, that cut through the wondrous strains of music being wafted to us in that green and prosperous neighbourhood through powerful speakers.’
    sound, music
    View synonyms

Phrases

  • at (full) strain

    • archaic Using the utmost effort.

      • ‘Recovery of stored electrochemical energy should enable moderate efficiencies to be achieved even at full strain.’
      • ‘Operating an actuator of stack height at half its potential strain, compared to operating a stack of height at full strain, reduces power consumption by 50%.’
      • ‘The manager finds himself on-board a 24-foot boat, careening into a wave-whipping southeast wind, sailing full strain.’
  • strain every nerve

    • Make every possible effort.

      • ‘Their absence is adequately compensated by men and women, who strain every nerve to attract the attention of the audience.’
      • ‘And thus he was sure that if he strained every nerve to feel calm, she would also feel this sense of calm.’
      • ‘Even at this late stage we want to strain every nerve to avoid military action.’
      • ‘She smiled bravely, straining every nerve within her, to hold back the grief she felt growing inside.’
      • ‘I can remember as Education Minister over thirty years ago, asking my Department to strain every nerve to find qualified Aboriginals who could teach Aboriginals in schools throughout the Northern Territory.’
      • ‘He that will not respond to its accents, and strain every nerve to carry into effect its provisions, is unworthy of the name of free man.’
      • ‘The organisers and the office-bearers have strained every nerve possible to make the tournament a resounding success.’
      • ‘Here I was straining every nerve and muscle to follow the ideal of celibacy, while the most highly regarded proponents of the path couldn't hack it themselves!’
      • ‘A high operations tempo means that generals, understandably, strain every nerve to keep frontline units manned with the best people - even if that scants the educational system of teachers and top students.’
      • ‘I shall hope against hope, I shall strain every nerve to achieve an honourable settlement for my country if I can do so without having to put the millions of my countrymen and countrywomen and even children through this ordeal of fire.’
      struggle, labour, toil, make a supreme effort, make every effort, spare no effort, strain every nerve, try very hard, strive, break one's back, drive oneself to the limit, push oneself to the limit, do one's best
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  • strain at the leash

    • Be eager to begin or do something:

      ‘by this time we were straining at the leash to get away’
      • ‘I'm straining at the leash to find out the final release date so that I can test the new portal site.’
      • ‘Openly I have been able to do this for the most part, but inwardly I have often strained at the leash.’
      • ‘The creative energies and the entrepreneurial spirit of the Indian people was straining at the leash.’
      • ‘Great Britain did not actively strain at the leash to build and rule and empire, but let the responsibilities and territories of the British Empire develop in a free market manner.’
      • ‘You may think of soldiers as gung-ho types who strained at the leash last year to invade.’
      • ‘They are straining at the leash though, and would give anything to be allowed to go up for a crack at them.’
      • ‘It was to get to that unheard of city I'd agitated and strained at the leash of Albany Park.’
      • ‘In the United States, when the corporate-owned media sense profits, they strain at the leash to sell the line better.’
      • ‘And perhaps the sight of their older married brothers straining at the leash is giving them pause.’
      • ‘I have customers straining at the leash to include mobile content in their offerings to their customers.’
      eager, impatient, anxious, enthusiastic
      itching, dying, gagging
      View synonyms

Origin

Middle English (as a verb): from Old French estreindre, from Latin stringere draw tight. Current senses of the noun arose in the mid 16th century.

Pronunciation:

strain

/streɪn/

Main definitions of strain in English

: strain1strain2

strain2

noun

  • 1A particular breed, stock, or variety of an animal or plant.

    • ‘Individual species are also becoming standardized, experts say, with cultivated strains of animals and plants ousting local varieties.’
    • ‘Scientists in Edinburgh have bred two strains of mice with differences of around 30% in their metabolism.’
    • ‘Most of their plants have been grown from seed strains carefully bred for high-quality flowers.’
    • ‘Had the inhabitants bred a strain of non - drinking animals?’
    • ‘They also worry that genetically altered plants could escape into wild strains or breed new diseases with disastrous environmental effects.’
    • ‘A survey of 13 domestic breeds and 3 inbred strains was carried out.’
    • ‘After finding a Thai strain of the Gyrant plant in the jungle, he bred it twice then crossbred it with a variant from China.’
    • ‘Next, they bred two strains of a monogamous species, the prairie vole - one with a long version of the microsatellites and the other with a short version.’
    • ‘It remains a major agricultural problem, especially for potato farmers who have been breeding resistant strains.’
    • ‘All of the taiep rats were the products of a mutant strain bred by our laboratory.’
    • ‘Commercial livestock are generally produced by crossing breeds, strains, or lines.’
    • ‘At that time a number of dogs of various sizes, shapes and abilities were used for herding sheep in Germany, but no one had been able to merge those strains into a uniform breed.’
    • ‘Male chicks from selectively bred egg-laying strains are not suitable for meat production and so are killed at one to three days old.’
    • ‘It opted for quick-cooking, high-yielding grains, while the East bred its strains for taste and texture.’
    • ‘This was a mongrel breed incorporating strains of Labrador, Greyhound, anything that could advance the genes of endurance and pulling power.’
    • ‘Australia has been trying to breed better strains of plants and animals for ever.’
    • ‘You can even keep them in suspended animation in the freezer for years at a time, allowing you to preserve stocks of different strains of the animal.’
    • ‘If the wild relatives of our crop plants die out, we might lose the genes that could be used to breed new pest-resistant strains.’
    • ‘What sorts of new plant strains are succeeding?’
    • ‘In fact, some of the plant strains, like sorghum, have been in stock since the 1940s.’
    variety, kind, type, sort
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A natural or cultured variety of a microorganism with a distinct form, biochemistry, or virulence.
      • ‘The challenge lies in being able to distinguish different serotypes, or strains, of the virus.’
      • ‘Last year, an estimated 240 people died from the most severe strain of the superbug, which occurs when the infection enters the bloodstream.’
      • ‘There are four distinct but related strains of the dengue virus.’
      • ‘Prevnar protects against seven strains of Streptococcus pneumonia bacteria.’
      • ‘Bacterial and T4 strains and culture conditions have been described.’
      • ‘Raccoons and striped skunks tell the story of scientists using DNA to track down distinct strains of the rabies virus.’
      • ‘Second, a mutation causing a switch in resource specialization allows one strain to sweep away its competitor.’
      • ‘So the common cold you get every year is the result of successful adaptation by those strains which had some survival advantage over the strains that your body was able to combat last year.’
      • ‘Normally HIV can take up to 10 years before it develops into Aids, but the new strain damages the immune system at a far greater rate, so it becomes Aids within a couple of months.’
      • ‘The anti-viral drugs would not offer a cure but could reduce the severity of symptoms although their precise use cannot be assessed until the precise flu strain is identified.’
      • ‘As we did not serotype these pneumococcal strains or measure antibodies to them, we cannot do more than speculate on the mechanism for this observation.’
      • ‘Modified Herpes virus strains have already been used to treat brain tumours successfully in mice.’
      • ‘Some, like the influenza virus, are occasionally transmitted to people via contact with birds or other animals harboring new strains.’
      • ‘In a new study, researchers show that special viruses are the culprits behind the emergence of virulent select new bacterial strains.’
      • ‘To finish the project in time the pace of work intensified, and more and more virus strains were cultured.’
      • ‘Rad6 is important for DNA damage responses and strains with rad6 mutations are sensitive to UV irradiation.’
      • ‘Lesprit and coworkers investigated the impact of this system by comparing the virulence of two bacterial strains in a rat model of acute pneumonia.’
      • ‘Avirulent bacterial strains can, in principle, also cause infections.’
      • ‘When she went to hospital to have the wound examined she was informed that she was infected with a strain of staph bacteria, similar to the MRSA superbug.’
      • ‘How, for instance, could we train scientists to fight the virulent new strains of bacteria that have evolved resistance to potent antibiotics?’
    2. 1.2 A variety of something abstract:
      ‘a strain of feminist thought’
      • ‘Hitchens' pro-war argument is fueled by a powerful strain of anti-clericalism.’
      • ‘Regional folklore, traditional music, and a powerful strain of evangelical Protestantism all helped shape this legacy.’
      • ‘The synthetic pulling together of disparate strains of thought that characterizes American Studies has also proved invaluable.’
      • ‘There has always been a strain in Conservative thinking, the Little Englander or isolationist tendency, that has been deeply suspicious of foreign intervention.’
      • ‘During the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, the advent of the machine age helped create powerful new strains of utopian art.’
      • ‘What about the strain of radical feminism in the current government and the attitudes they create?’
      • ‘There is a strain of feminism that encourages women to behave as if we have arrived in some feminist Utopia where rape is impossible.’
      • ‘There's a strain of feminism that comes out of the women's health movement of the seventies that is deeply suspicious of reproductive technology.’
      • ‘The Ukrainian state and most strains of Ukrainian nationalism are a product of the last 100 years.’
      • ‘Modern life breeds a strain of different problems than our grandparents were used to.’
      • ‘The artist tries to pull off the trick of synthesizing these two strains into something characteristic, first of himself and second of his milieu.’
      element, strand, streak, vein, note, trace, touch, dash, tinge, suggestion, hint, suspicion
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  • 2A particular tendency as part of a person's character:

    ‘there was a powerful strain of insanity on her mother's side of the family’
    • ‘I know you guys are expecting something in my usual strain of strange humour.’
    • ‘Tense, haunted and melancholy, the composer's dark vision was only relieved by a mordant strain of humour.’
    • ‘Though not slapstick or of the knee-slapping variety, Hamer is droll and often wickedly subtle in his deadly strain of humour.’
    • ‘The gays return the affection with an unexpected strain of patriotism and traditionalism.’
    • ‘Many footballing traits have nothing to do with people's real psychology, but in this case it does seem to me that a strain of caution in the Italian character comes out in this aspect of how they play footy.’
    • ‘These are two warring but important strains to the national character, at tension with each other.’
    • ‘Wax developed her deadly strain of humour at 16, partly to ‘equalise the pressure’ from home and partly to win popularity at school.’
    tendency to, susceptibility to, propensity to, proneness to, proclivity to, inclination to
    View synonyms

Origin

Old English strīon ‘acquisition, gain’, of Germanic origin; related to Latin struere to build up.

Pronunciation:

strain

/streɪn/