Definition of pain in English:



  • 1Physical suffering or discomfort caused by illness or injury.

    ‘she's in great pain’
    ‘those who suffer from back pain’
    ‘chest pains’
    • ‘Mr McLean said his illness caused pain and confusion for his family, friends and himself.’
    • ‘But he did not feel hungry because he was in such pain from his injuries and could only concentrate on trying to get out.’
    • ‘She was in constant pain and her physical movements were restricted.’
    • ‘She is recovering at home from her injuries but still suffers pain when lifted, according to her family.’
    • ‘Fibromyalgia is a chronic musculoskeletal illness of wide-spread pain and profound fatigue.’
    • ‘She said: ‘His wife suffered chest pains and whiplash injuries.’’
    • ‘The accident dissolved my life into illness, weakness, pain and exhaustion, cold and hunger.’
    • ‘She was feeling the limits of her body and the pain of her wounds more surely than she could ever remember.’
    • ‘Patients and their physicians are familiar with acute pain or pain caused by injury.’
    • ‘The first sign of decay may be a sensation of pain when eating something sweet, very cold or very hot.’
    • ‘One of his lawyers said the singer was still in pain from a back injury and would rest through the weekend.’
    • ‘Some of the people in the elders' ward are obviously in physical pain.’
    • ‘But he has been left in agonising pain with serious injuries to his back, head and legs.’
    • ‘Since the accident at 12, my life had dissolved into pain, illness, weakness and exhaustion.’
    • ‘Dr Tynan claims he has suffered extreme pain due to the injury which he blames on the negligence of the hotel.’
    • ‘I'd like to think he wouldn't have left us if he hadn't also been in physical pain.’
    • ‘They endure physical pain and the constant possibility of a career-ending injury.’
    • ‘She added as an ex-nurse she believed it was hard to find the cause of pain or injury without an examination.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Her son Sean was born with a serious genetic disorder which means, among other things, that he can't feel physical pain.’
    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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    1. 1.1 Mental suffering or distress.
      ‘the pain of loss’
      • ‘Since being refused compensation Rosie has appealed and applied for a payment based on the family's pain and suffering.’
      • ‘She appeared to be in a great deal of physical and emotional pain, and her face was still so young and pristine.’
      • ‘The pain of loss and grief of the relatives of those killed has been widely covered and is sometimes too painful to bare.’
      • ‘Being with people we don't like gives us pain; mainly emotional but it could be physical pain too.’
      • ‘It was also to remember her journey through pain, sorrow, loss and deprivation.’
      • ‘This vandalism has caused much distress and pain to the families of those whose graves were destroyed.’
      • ‘What is it that makes us think we have the right to view other people's pain, loss and grief?’
      • ‘I was so used to emotional pain right now that I hadn't known physical pain could be just as bad.’
      • ‘The Special Adjudicator was right to consider whether it amounted to severe mental pain and suffering.’
      • ‘But forcing everyone to take part in research would bring substantial pain and distress for some people.’
      • ‘More recently forms of aversion therapy and mental pain have been recognized in many psychiatric procedures.’
      • ‘We are not saying that feelings of sadness and pain over the loss of life is inappropriate.’
      • ‘For example, I was in a great deal of confusion, distress and pain over the weekend.’
      • ‘What was emotional pain was now becoming physical pain and getting worse by the day.’
      • ‘The pain from my injuries disappeared as emotional pain caused by my actions took hold.’
      • ‘And we should champion policies that increase the ranks of the former while alleviating the pain suffered by the latter.’
      • ‘Of that sum £135,000 was in respect of pain, suffering and loss of amenity.’
      • ‘However, I think these guys are mixing up physical pain and psychological pain.’
      • ‘The family is in pain or in distress, and the therapist is called upon to help them and to find a way out of their dilemma.’
      • ‘Apart from my heart was swelling so much I thought it may explode, all my mental pain was gone.’
      sorrow, grief, heartache, heartbreak, sadness, unhappiness, distress, desolation, misery, wretchedness, despair, desperation, mental suffering, emotional suffering, trauma
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    2. 1.2informal An annoying or tedious person or thing.
      ‘she's 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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  • 2painsCareful effort; great 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.’
    • ‘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’.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Several others were at pains to display warmth.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But publicly at least, Parliament's senior media handlers are at pains to emphasise that they will show no favour.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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’
    • ‘As much as it pains me to admit this, I too was a teenager once.’
    • ‘It pains me to have people worrying unnecessarily.’
    • ‘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 looked fine, but it was obvious that he was wincing as he walked and that his right leg was paining him.’
    • ‘It physically pains me to give away the money which makes me feel comfortable and stable in this life.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘As she grasped hold of a rail, her mind seemed to haze as her wounds were pained by every push and shove.’
    • ‘He was almost physically pained by rigid doctrinal systems, and mildly revolted by the idea of discipleship.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I had noticed him make the movement before, and wondered if perhaps an old wound pained him there.’
    • ‘He was pained by the abject poverty and the trouble women had to undergo to fetch water for the families.’
    • ‘Muttonhead's condition was still nudging him in the back, and it pained him more than any physical scar he had incurred.’
    • ‘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 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.’
    • ‘She seemed okay with the direction of the conversation, but it looked as if something physically pained her.’
    • ‘Later he retired because his wounds pained him, but he spent the last year of the war on a privateer attacking British shipping.’
    • ‘One can't always be up-beat… but never mind that, it pains me for there to be so much stress and issues…’
    • ‘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.’
    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’
      • ‘I wanted to see it so much my chest ached and pained with the frustration.’
      • ‘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.’


  • be at pains to do something

    • Take great care or trouble to do something.

      ‘he is at pains to point out that he isn't like that’
  • for one's pains

    • informal As an unfairly bad return for efforts or trouble.

      ‘he was sued for his pains’
      • ‘You referred to Thoreau a moment ago - it's interesting about Thoreau's association of civil disobedience or dissent in refusing to pay taxes, ending up in jail for a night for his pains.’
      • ‘He was recalled to London and disciplined for his pains.’
      • ‘He shoved through people and was cursed at for his pains.’
      • ‘You'll only get kicked and beaten and trampled on for your pains.’
      • ‘Examiners of my essays constantly warn me about the perils of this ‘Post-Doctoral Thesis’ tendency, and I often incur mediocre marks for my pains.’
      • ‘Beno moved forward, and received an elbow to the chest for his pains.’
      • ‘The elder Vidyarthi had gone to jail for his pains, and his son had continued in the family tradition, as a courageous anti-establishment publisher.’
      • ‘He was rewarded for his pains by more jeering, whooping and the sound of broken glass.’
      • ‘I did all I could to hold him in, and he hated me for my pains.’
      • ‘Hal displays a couple of good trout, but the competitive youngsters Martin and Jim have nothing to show for their pains.’
  • no pain, no gain

    • Suffering is necessary in order to achieve something.

      • ‘‘I intend to defend my title, regardless’ And as the old saying goes, no pain, no gain.’
      • ‘So you cannot empower people, you have to give them the opportunities to develop their skills to become empowered to deal with these matters; no pain, no gain, that is basically it.’
      • ‘He has picked up a nasty gash on his leg, though, bleeds quite heavily and limps for the best part of the following week, but no pain, no gain, right?’
      • ‘For policyholders who believed the mortgage promise, there is only the harsh reality of no pain, no gain.’
  • on (or under) pain of

    • The penalty for disobedience or shortcoming being.

      ‘all persons are commanded to keep silent on pain of imprisonment’
      • ‘We, being the ones who swore, even on pain of death, that we would defend the interests of the System, feel that our acts must be selfless in all aspects.’
      • ‘A 15-year deal will have certain conditions which must be fulfilled on pain of penalties being imposed.’
      • ‘I don't think you can really call it benevolence when someone is forced to do nice things on pain of death.’
      • ‘They could disobey orders only on pain of death.’
      • ‘She made me swear on pain of death that I'd go to a salon in Newcastle the morning of the event and get my hair put up by a specialist.’
      • ‘No knives that have gone into the peanut butter must ever go into the jam, on pain of death, literally.’
      • ‘Detainees can be forced to answer questions on pain of imprisonment and now, if charged, police will be able to interrogate them for a further 24 hours before facing court.’
      • ‘In the course of that investigation, the applicant was required to answer questions on pain of penalty.’
      • ‘But he was exiled permanently from Rome, never to return under pain of death.’
      • ‘This effectively prevents the authority from supporting any other cinema site under pain of financial penalty.’


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