Definition of strain noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//streɪn//
    ; NAmE NAmE//streɪn//
    Describing music, Injuries
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  1. 1  [uncountable, countable] pressure on somebody/something because they have too much to do or manage, or something very difficult to deal with; the problems, worry or anxiety that this produces Their marriage is under great strain at the moment. These repayments are putting a strain on our finances. Relax, and let us take the strain (= do things for you). The transport service cannot cope with the strain of so many additional passengers. You will learn to cope with the stresses and strains of public life. I found it a strain having to concentrate for so long. There are strains in the relationship between the two countries. Synonymspressurestress tension strainThese are all words for the feelings of anxiety caused by the problems in somebody’s life.pressure difficulties and feelings of anxiety that are caused by the need to achieve something or to behave in a particular way:She was unable to attend because of the pressures of work.stress pressure or anxiety caused by the problems in somebody’s life:stress-related illnessespressure or stress?It is common to say that somebody is suffering from stress, while pressure may be the thing that causes stress.tension a feeling of anxiety and stress that makes it impossible to relax:nervous tensionstrain pressure on somebody/​something because they have too much to do or manage; the problems, worry or anxiety that this produces:I found it a strain looking after four children.Patterns to be under pressure/​stress/​strain considerable pressure/​stress/​tension/​strain to cause stress/​tension/​strain to cope with the pressure/​stress/​tension/​strain to relieve/​release the pressure/​stress/​tension/​strain to be suffering from stress/​tension
  2. physical pressure
  3. 2  [uncountable, countable] the pressure that is put on something when a physical force stretches, pushes, or pulls it The rope broke under the strain. You should try not to place too much strain on muscles and joints. The ground here cannot take the strain of a large building. The cable has a 140kg breaking strain (= it will break when it is stretched or pulled by a force greater than this).
  4. injury
  5. 3[countable, uncountable] an injury to a part of your body, such as a muscle, that is caused by using it too much or by twisting it a calf/groin/leg strain muscle strain See related entries: Injuries
  6. type of plant/animal/disease
  7. 4[countable] a particular type of plant or animal, or of a disease caused by bacteria, etc. a new strain of mosquitoes resistant to the poison This is only one of the many strains of the disease.
  8. in somebody’s character
  9. 5[countable, usually singular] a particular tendency in the character of a person or group, or a quality in their manner synonym streak He had a definite strain of snobbery in him.
  10. of music
  11. 6[countable, usually plural] (formal) the sound of music being played or sung She could hear the strains of Mozart through the window. See related entries: Describing music
  12. Word Originnoun senses 1 to 3 and noun sense 6 Middle English (as a verb): from Old French estreindre, from Latin stringere ‘draw tight’. Current senses of the noun arose in the mid 16th cent. noun senses 4 to 5 Old English strīon ‘acquisition, gain’, of Germanic origin; related to Latin struere ‘to build up’.Extra examples After three years, their marriage was beginning to show signs of strain. After weeks of overtime, she was starting to feel the strain. After weeks of uncertainty, the strain was beginning to take its toll. Gerrard will play if he can shake off a slight thigh strain. H5N1 is a strain of avian influenza. He broke down under the strain of having to work twelve hours a day. I found it a bit of a strain making conversation with her. Increasing demand is placing undue strain on services. It’s a real strain having to get up so early! Losing the business put a strain on their relationship. Television newsreaders come under enormous strain. The Internet takes the strain out of shopping. The ice gave way under the strain. The mental strain of sharing an office with Alison was starting to show. The new scheme is designed to take the strain out of shopping. There’s too much strain on the corner of the table. You’ll get eye strain if you don’t put the light on. a fishing line with a 15lb breaking strain the stresses and strains of a long day He heard the familiar strains of a tango coming from the club. I found it a strain looking after four children. Relax, and let us take the strain. The cable has a 140kg breaking strain. The rope broke under the strain. a calf/​groin/​leg strain
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: strain