Main definitions of strain in English

: strain1strain2

strain1

verb

  • 1with 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’
    • ‘If you overdo it and strain yourself, you may become discouraged.’
    • ‘You kept straining yourself to hide those emotions from everyone.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She had taken a month off so she could heal without straining herself.’
    • ‘What you do need to do is give a positive impression while not straining yourself in trying to impress him/her.’
    • ‘‘You could clearly see that when Bette lifted Joan off the bed she was straining herself,’ said Gary.’
    • ‘They could do much more to help guard the West without straining themselves.’
    • ‘Anyone who forgot to bring the radio had to stand or strain themselves to listen to the game on somebody else's radio.’
    • ‘When one strained oneself to listen to the speaker one could make out that some important male writers were speaking in generalities.’
    • ‘You do not want to strain yourself walking quickly and forcing your body to pump blood faster in these temperatures.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘You should feel tension in your upper back but don't strain yourself.’
    • ‘But don't strain yourselves getting out of your new squad car.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He cries weakly, the effort clearly straining his feeble body.’
    • ‘I strain myself to make each song a distinctive experience.’
    • ‘He just could not understand how I could dance, straining myself.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Don't bother straining yourself thinking about it; I know it's hard for you to see past your own needs.’
    1. 1.1no 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.’
      • ‘But an outer layer of the public also surrounded him, straining to hear every word uttered by the man.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘First of all, she's a mumbler, so I really have to strain to hear her.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He strains to hear something recognizable, but the fog and the sea muffle everything.’
      • ‘I strain to hear and then grin, resisting the temptation to say ‘eh’?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He turned his attention to the duo at the fire, straining forward to hear…’
      • ‘David was jangling his change so frantically you had to strain to hear what anyone was saying.’
      • ‘I can't stop myself, and I hear my voice straining, on the verge of cracking, but I can't stop that either.’
      • ‘But I also tilted my head a lot, like a cat straining to hear a really weird sound.’
      • ‘Ryda leaned forward, straining to hear the conversation.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Scores of people stood around in the darkened gallery straining to hear every word of the amazing, passionate reading.’
      • ‘She whispered so softly that Heart had to strain to hear.’
      • ‘And after straining to hear it, I realised that it sounded familiar.’
      • ‘This results in straining to hear what was asked.’
      • ‘I sat on the bed shivering, straining to hear their conversation, but they were too far down the hall and speaking too softly anyway.’
      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.’
      • ‘Zaheer strained his muscle in the right leg this morning and was ruled out for the rest of the ongoing Test.’
      • ‘I squealed in pain, having strained a muscle in my leg.’
      • ‘One of the athletes was placed on the injured list after straining his left quadriceps.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He strove so hard to rival Holding that he strained stomach muscles in the Kingston Test against England in 1981.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Spring is the season for groin pulls - that is, straining the adductor muscles that run along the inside of your thighs.’
      • ‘I had somehow managed to strain a muscle in my leg while attempting to dance.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He struck out four and walked one in his first outing since June 22, when he strained his left oblique muscle.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Then if you can inform and entertain the reader at the same time - without straining a muscle - all the better.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The more common of these include spraining or tearing one or more ligaments, tearing the meniscus or straining a tendon or muscle.’
      • ‘The Ulsterman claims to have strained a thigh muscle last week while fishing - strange but true.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      injure, hurt, damage, impair
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 Make severe or excessive demands on.
      ‘he strained her tolerance to the limit’
      • ‘This strains housing stock levels for future generations.’
      • ‘Police say their service is thoroughly strained.’
      • ‘Indonesia's large and growing population continues to strain national resources.’
      • ‘And they're straining the resources of international institutions who have responsibility for finding solutions.’
      • ‘The scheme will provide 40 affordable homes and three playgrounds as well as hundreds of new neighbours who many fear will strain local resources.’
      • ‘Of course services are strained and we have to find solutions.’
      • ‘But it will strain its ability to pick the right locations to get that boost.’
      • ‘But the truce has been severely strained by nightly fighting between the two sides.’
      • ‘Fort McMurray infrastructure and services are strained by the shadow population according to a survey.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The Habsburg Monarchy was strained by the demands of different nationalities for autonomy.’
      • ‘The volume of these ethnic groups plus black migrants strained social services to the breaking point.’
      • ‘Mpofu said the growth of Bulawayo and the current economic situation have strained resources to cope with distressed calls.’
      • ‘The groundwater resources have been severely strained by over-use.’
      • ‘Relations between Chicago and Britain have been severely strained by the announcement, coming as it does weeks before an election.’
      • ‘Adding an additional 300 does not strain our resources.’
      • ‘Exporting can strain a company's resources and staff.’
      • ‘Rapid population increases are not only straining this country's resources; they're also changing the way we live.’
      • ‘Treatment should not strain available resources, and most of all it should do no harm to the patient.’
      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
      View synonyms
    4. 1.4no 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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The whole sled shook as they strained at the traces.’
      • ‘‘Get on the ship,’ she replied, her voice straining against the wind and rain.’
      • ‘Nika stood up as her captive yanked and strained at the glittering strand that leashed her, shoulders bunching and teeth bared.’
      • ‘No matter how he twisted and pulled, straining against the straps, he could not free himself.’
      • ‘Fenix jerked, straining against the cord - he wanted to murder the man!’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘My somewhat rusty culinary skills creaked and groaned like a wooden ship straining against high winds.’
      • ‘The family dog Jasper, a brown spotted Dalmatian, strained at his lead as master and family passed by.’
      • ‘Mack stopped straining against his grip, and relaxed.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The waves pounded the ship and the crew strained at the pumps, but it seemed a hopeless task.’
      • ‘He pulls her back towards him, straining against her.’
      • ‘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 doomed tanker was hauled out to sea by tugs straining against the winds and tide.’
      • ‘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’
      • ‘During these works transmitting took place with the help of an antenna which was strained between the other tower and a small wood mast.’
      • ‘It originally used as transmitting antenna a cage aerial, which was strained between two 60 meters tall wood towers.’
      • ‘For the most part the structure is strained tightly together, and decorated, by spidery cross braces.’
    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.’
  • 2with 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’
    • ‘Wood-grain areas of the car can be polished with a mixture of equal parts strained lemon juice and olive oil.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This process is repeated one more time before the mixture is strained through an empty cotton bag to remove the husks.’
    • ‘Then strain the cloudy water from the rice - this removes most of the starch.’
    • ‘After the third and final straining the ale should be ready to drink.’
    • ‘I experimented with reducing leftover dried clay scraps to the consistency of slip and strained the mixture to remove lumps.’
    • ‘Remove from the heat and strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl.’
    • ‘The milk is then strained and the grains recovered for reuse.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Drain in a colander set over a bowl, then shell the mussels before straining the juice carefully through a double muslin or chinois.’
    • ‘In the morning of Day 6, I strained the wine into a pan for the final step: mixing in honey and vodka.’
    • ‘Binding glutens were added, and the mixture was strained through a large-holed colander into boiling water.’
    • ‘Slowly strain the butter through a fine sieve into a clean pan, leaving the sediment behind.’
    • ‘Line a colander or sieve with a couple of layers of cheesecloth and strain the soup.’
    • ‘Soak tamarind in 1 ½ cups of water, squeeze well and strain the juice.’
    • ‘Remove from the heat and leave to cool, then strain the stock through a fine sieve, reserving the ham hock on one side.’
    • ‘Simmer for 10 minutes, leave to cool and then strain the mixture through a sieve into a large jug.’
    • ‘Then let it cool and strain the mixture through cheesecloth.’
    • ‘Remove and set aside for 10 minutes, then strain the oil and combine with the remaining olive oil; discard the garlic.’
    • ‘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.’
    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’
      • ‘Mix some strained papaya human baby food with this, but omit adding additional vitamins or minerals.’
      • ‘For instance, canned chicken and tuna can be strained to remove a significant amount of sodium.’
      • ‘The malt is then boiled, strained, and incubated with yeast.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If excess water remains after cooking, strain the grains.’
      • ‘Simmer for five minutes, then remove from heat and strain all ingredients.’
      • ‘The coconut is grated, strained and boiled to extract its oil.’
      • ‘Add almost all of the remaining berries and strain the fruit, keeping all the juices.’
      • ‘That evening, as she took the rice gruel to the cowshed after straining the cooked rice, she screamed out in terror.’
      • ‘With a piece of netting they strained the rice into buckets while I held the torch.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘When you're ready to start cooking, strain the beef, reserving the marinade and the other ingredients.’
      • ‘Remove from the heat and serve as it is or strain the leaves and potato into a food processor.’
      • ‘The leaves of the elder can also be boiled and strained to make an insecticidal spray.’
      • ‘These plates are used to strain food from the water.’
      • ‘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.’
      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’
      • ‘Then strain the liquid into the sink, leaving the vermouth-flavored ice in the shaker.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘After two hours, carefully strain the oil by using unbleached muslin (usually available at fabric stores).’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Let the water stand overnight, then strain the liquid into a spray bottle.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘After about three weeks strain off the liquid and water it around the roots of the plants.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It is at this point that you would want to strain off the residual liquid.’
      • ‘Peel a medium cucumber, purée it in your blender for 10 seconds, and strain the water out.’
      sieve, sift, filter, screen, riddle, separate
      View synonyms

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’
    • ‘Skiing put a big strain on my body, but he got me to do way more than I thought I could do.’
    • ‘Repetitive strain injuries are thought to be the result of tasks such as typing or even picking up the phone repeatedly.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘His legs were so thin however that Catherad was sure that they would snap under the enormous 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.’
    • ‘What is the impact of stresses and strains from external forces on our practice field?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The strain of the horse pulling on his mouth and gums was painful, but he ignored it.’
    • ‘The structure of the ligamenta flava enables them to be stretched to high strains without damage.’
    • ‘In addition to the pull of Jupiter's gravity, Io also feels the strain from the gravitational fields of Jupiter's other large moons.’
    • ‘The walls were bending as much as they could, but it was an enormous strain on them nonetheless.’
    • ‘In the sensors, small acoustic vibrations or environmental strains induce frequency and intensity modulations.’
    • ‘The results are consistent with the predictions of continuum elasticity theory for the strain of a point source subject to an applied force.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Repetitive strain injuries are examined with a look at alternative treatments.’
    • ‘Stress is defined as a condition that puts a physical strain on the body.’
    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’
      • ‘Hayes missed the victory over Thornhill with a hamstring strain but the injury has been responding to treatment.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Last year he struggled with groin strains for most of the year and was never operating at full fitness.’
      • ‘‘During the game I got a groin strain and I've never really recovered,’ he explained.’
      • ‘The most common snow injuries are strains, sprains and fractures.’
      • ‘Hours of peak time are cleared to discuss groin strains.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Neck injuries or strains often result in painful inflammation.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The most common types of sports injuries are sprains and strains.’
      • ‘Carey is troubled with a calf injury, while O'Hara has a groin strain.’
      • ‘The majority of injuries in a primary care setting are soft tissue injuries (sprains, strains, and contusions).’
      • ‘A recent study concluded that maintaining constant glycine levels might prevent sports injuries such as muscle strains and sprains.’
      • ‘Chronic knee injuries include things like strains, sprains and tendinitis.’
      • ‘Two years ago he played on with a groin strain, ended up with a hernia and missed out on the Ashes tour.’
      • ‘One by one, they staggered to the podium, like footballers with groin strains.’
      • ‘Repetitive strain injury occurs when the movable parts of the limbs are injured.’
      • ‘Durcan has a groin strain, while Brehony is troubled by a hamstring injury.’
      • ‘Yoga students who push themselves too far without proper supervision risk suffering painful injuries and strains.’
      • ‘We will have to see whether it's just a groin strain or a hernia.’
    2. 1.2Physics The magnitude of a deformation, equal to the change in the dimension of a deformed object divided by its original dimension.
      • ‘The c-maximum fabric normal to foliation is typical of calcite rocks deformed experimentally to high strains in simple shear.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘At relatively low shear strains, deformation is apparent from the slight deformation of strain markers, such as the overturning of ice-wedge casts.’
      • ‘Two possible causes have been argued to explain this feature for limestone deformed to high shear strains.’
  • 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’
    • ‘It is this population boom that has put a strain on the land resource in Zambia creating a breeding ground for desertification.’
    • ‘This has put a strain on our long-distant communication.’
    • ‘‘I thought you said that it put a terrible strain on your body,’ Shadia said.’
    • ‘Weight lifting places great strains on both body and mind.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I can't keep my mind focused for hour after hour and my body won't take the strain for so long, either.’
    • ‘The resultant dengue outbreaks place severe strains on public hospitals, with wards filled to overflowing with patients.’
    • ‘Negative self-talk puts a tremendous strain on both the body and self-esteem.’
    • ‘This modification, while it suits the owner perfectly, put a strain on my ability to shoot small 25 yard groups.’
    • ‘This was round-the-clock flying and it put a strain on the maintenance crews.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Just casting it once can be a real strain on the body.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The physical strain on Jones' body was incredible.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Downturn in the fertiliser market coupled with rising production costs and wet weather has put a strain on the industry.’
    pressure, demands, burdens, exertions
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1mass noun A state of tension or exhaustion resulting from severe demands on one's strength or resources.
      ‘the telltale signs of nervous strain’
      • ‘But when both are focused on taking, then the dynamic is pulling in opposite directions - creating strain and tension.’
      • ‘All of these common heritage resources are under tremendous strain as corporations seek to privatize and commodify them.’
      • ‘Recently McGregor's relationship with the press has also shown signs of strain.’
      • ‘The national association was under severe strain last year.’
      • ‘As the first week passed by so did some strain and tension on the couple's relationship.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘Mental strain is a lot lower in a marriage,’ says Oswald.’
      • ‘Exhaustion, strain and tension are what hit you.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The release of the body from the tension and strain of work may be understood as a natural physical response to fatigue.’
      • ‘Moreover, these protectionist initiatives have surfaced at a time when the global trading system is already under severe strain.’
      • ‘The social fabric is already showing signs of strain.’
      • ‘I think everyone I know is suffering from that mental strain.’
      • ‘Social factors, such as affluence and population growth, add further demand and strain on recreation opportunities.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She asked quietly, her dirt and coal smudged face showed signs of strain and fatigue where it wasn't hidden by darkness.’
      • ‘This constant state of alert places high tension and strain on staff.’
      • ‘A report carried out at University College Dublin has found that a quarter of primary teachers have fatigue and strain caused by voice problems.’
      stress, tension, nervous tension, anxiety
      View synonyms
  • 3usually strainsThe sound of a piece of music.

    ‘the distant strains of the brass band grew louder’
    • ‘Somewhere musicians were still rehearsing for later, and the vague strains of music allowed him to make such a move without any culpability.’
    • ‘A fan turns slowly overhead, keeping time with the strains of Latino music.’
    • ‘Baraka here is particularly interested in the differing timbres or tones that the two strains of music produced.’
    • ‘Once the first strains of piped music had swept over me, it was as if we had never been away.’
    • ‘In the background, strains of Latin music blend with sounds of sizzling from the kitchen to create an uplifting, cheerful atmosphere.’
    • ‘Their sound has expanded from the punk-rock base to include Celtic and country-and-western strains and contemporary dance music.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Inside, we're surrounded by leather and walnut and soft strains of classical music.’
    • ‘In the Kiev Sports Palace gymnasium I watched Larissa go through her paces to the strains of music by Tchaikovsky.’
    • ‘Haunting strains of ethereal music introduced stunningly bright, clear, and artistic opening credits.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Just a few yards away from the mahal, the strains of Carnatic music emanate from a small shrine.’
    • ‘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!’
    • ‘By then, they had already reached the auditorium, and strains of beautiful piano music wafted to their ears.’
    • ‘Take to the countryside to enjoy the soothing strains of classical music at this highbrow summer fest.’
    • ‘The strains of music played, the words came up, and we cheered as one.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She stopped complaining when she heard the first strains of classical music.’
    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.’

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.

    • ‘Australia has been trying to breed better strains of plants and animals for ever.’
    • ‘A survey of 13 domestic breeds and 3 inbred strains was carried out.’
    • ‘What sorts of new plant strains are succeeding?’
    • ‘Male chicks from selectively bred egg-laying strains are not suitable for meat production and so are killed at one to three days old.’
    • ‘Commercial livestock are generally produced by crossing breeds, strains, or lines.’
    • ‘All of the taiep rats were the products of a mutant strain bred by our laboratory.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They also worry that genetically altered plants could escape into wild strains or breed new diseases with disastrous environmental effects.’
    • ‘Scientists in Edinburgh have bred two strains of mice with differences of around 30% in their metabolism.’
    • ‘It opted for quick-cooking, high-yielding grains, while the East bred its strains for taste and texture.’
    • ‘Individual species are also becoming standardized, experts say, with cultivated strains of animals and plants ousting local varieties.’
    • ‘It remains a major agricultural problem, especially for potato farmers who have been breeding resistant strains.’
    • ‘This was a mongrel breed incorporating strains of Labrador, Greyhound, anything that could advance the genes of endurance and pulling power.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘After finding a Thai strain of the Gyrant plant in the jungle, he bred it twice then crossbred it with a variant from China.’
    • ‘Most of their plants have been grown from seed strains carefully bred for high-quality flowers.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Had the inhabitants bred a strain of non - drinking animals?’
    • ‘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.
      • ‘Lesprit and coworkers investigated the impact of this system by comparing the virulence of two bacterial strains in a rat model of acute pneumonia.’
      • ‘Second, a mutation causing a switch in resource specialization allows one strain to sweep away its competitor.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Modified Herpes virus strains have already been used to treat brain tumours successfully in mice.’
      • ‘How, for instance, could we train scientists to fight the virulent new strains of bacteria that have evolved resistance to potent antibiotics?’
      • ‘Some, like the influenza virus, are occasionally transmitted to people via contact with birds or other animals harboring new strains.’
      • ‘To finish the project in time the pace of work intensified, and more and more virus strains were cultured.’
      • ‘There are four distinct but related strains of the dengue virus.’
      • ‘Prevnar protects against seven strains of Streptococcus pneumonia bacteria.’
      • ‘Avirulent bacterial strains can, in principle, also cause infections.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In a new study, researchers show that special viruses are the culprits behind the emergence of virulent select new bacterial strains.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Raccoons and striped skunks tell the story of scientists using DNA to track down distinct strains of the rabies virus.’
      • ‘Bacterial and T4 strains and culture conditions have been described.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Rad6 is important for DNA damage responses and strains with rad6 mutations are sensitive to UV irradiation.’
    2. 1.2 A variety of something abstract.
      ‘a strain of music that has a direct lineage to folk song’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There is a strain of feminism that encourages women to behave as if we have arrived in some feminist Utopia where rape is impossible.’
      • ‘The synthetic pulling together of disparate strains of thought that characterizes American Studies has also proved invaluable.’
      • ‘Regional folklore, traditional music, and a powerful strain of evangelical Protestantism all helped shape this legacy.’
      • ‘The artist tries to pull off the trick of synthesizing these two strains into something characteristic, first of himself and second of his milieu.’
      • ‘Hitchens' pro-war argument is fueled by a powerful strain of anti-clericalism.’
      • ‘There has always been a strain in Conservative thinking, the Little Englander or isolationist tendency, that has been deeply suspicious of foreign intervention.’
      • ‘Modern life breeds a strain of different problems than our grandparents were used to.’
      • ‘The Ukrainian state and most strains of Ukrainian nationalism are a product of the last 100 years.’
      • ‘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?’
      element, strand, streak, vein, note, trace, touch, dash, tinge, suggestion, hint, suspicion
      View synonyms
  • 2A particular tendency as part of a person's character.

    ‘there's a strain of Victorian rectitude in him’
    • ‘Though not slapstick or of the knee-slapping variety, Hamer is droll and often wickedly subtle in his deadly strain of humour.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I know you guys are expecting something in my usual strain of strange humour.’
    • ‘Wax developed her deadly strain of humour at 16, partly to ‘equalise the pressure’ from home and partly to win popularity at school.’
    • ‘The gays return the affection with an unexpected strain of patriotism and traditionalism.’
    • ‘Tense, haunted and melancholy, the composer's dark vision was only relieved by a mordant strain of humour.’
    • ‘These are two warring but important strains to the national character, at tension with each other.’
    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/