American English

Definition of strain verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they strain
    he / she / it strains
    past simple strained
    -ing form straining
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  1. 1[transitive] strain something/yourself to injure yourself or part of your body by making it work too hard to strain a muscle You'll strain your back carrying those heavy suitcases. Topic CollocationsInjuriesbeing injured have a fall/an injury receive/suffer/sustain a serious injury/a hairline fracture/a gunshot wound/a concussion/whiplash injuries hurt/injure your ankle/back/leg damage the brain/an ankle ligament/your liver/the optic nerve/the skin pull/strain/tear a hamstring/ligament/muscle/tendon sprain/twist your ankle/wrist break a bone/your collarbone/your leg/three ribs fracture/crack your skull break/chip/knock out/lose a tooth burst/perforate your eardrum dislocate your finger/hip/jaw/shoulder/elbow bruise/cut/graze your arm/knee/shoulder burn/scald yourself/your tongue bang/bump/hit your elbow/head/knee (on/against something)treating injuries treat somebody for burns/a head injury/a stab wound examine/clean/dress/bandage/treat a bullet wound repair a damaged/torn ligament/tendon/cartilage amputate/cut off an arm/a finger/a foot/a leg/a limb put on (formal) apply/take off a Band-Aid™/a sterile dressing/a bandage need/require/put in/get/take out stitches put on/rub on (formal) apply cream/ointment/lotion have/receive/undergo physical therapy Thesaurusinjurewound hurt bruise sprain pull strainThese words all mean to harm yourself or someone else physically, especially in an accident.injure to harm yourself or someone else physically, especially in an accident:He injured his knee playing hockey. Three people were injured in the crash.wound [often passive] (somewhat formal) to injure part of the body, especially by making a hole in the skin using a weapon:Two people were killed and dozens more wounded in the attack. Wound is often used to talk about people being hurt in war or in other attacks which affect a lot of people.hurt (somewhat informal) to cause physical pain to someone or yourself; to injure someone or yourself:Did you hurt yourself?injure or hurt?You can hurt or injure a part of the body in an accident. Hurt emphasizes the physical pain caused;injure emphasizes that the part of the body has been damaged in some way.bruise to make a blue, brown, or purple mark (= a bruise) appear on the skin after someone has fallen or been hit; to develop a bruisesprain to injure part of your body, especially your ankle, wrist, or knee, by suddenly bending it in an awkward way, causing pain and swellingpull to damage a muscle, etc., by using too much forcestrain to injure yourself or part of your body by making it work too hard:Don't strain your eyes by reading in poor light.Patterns to injure/hurt/strain yourself to injure/hurt/pull/strain a muscle to injure/hurt/sprain your ankle/knee/wrist to injure/hurt/strain your back/shoulder/eyes to injure/hurt your spine/neck to be badly/severely/slightly injured/wounded/hurt/bruised/sprained
  2. make effort
  3. 2[transitive, intransitive] to make an effort to do something, using all your mental or physical strength strain something to do something Istrained my ears (= listened very hard) to catch what they were saying. strain something Necks were strained for a glimpse of the stranger. strain to do something People were straining to see what was going on. strain (something) (for something) He burst to the surface, straining for air. Bend gently to the left without straining.
  4. stretch to limit
  5. 3[transitive] strain something to try to make something do more than it is able to do The sudden influx of visitors is straining hotels in the town to the limit. His constant complaints were straining our patience. The dispute has strained relations between the two countries (= made them difficult). Her latest version of events strained their credulity still further.
  6. push/pull hard
  7. 4[intransitive] + adv./prep. to push hard against something; to pull hard on something She strained against the ropes that held her. The dogs were straining at the leash, eager to get to the park.
  8. separate solid from liquid
  9. 5[transitive] to pour food, etc. through something with very small holes in it, for example a sieve, in order to separate the solid part from the liquid part strain something Use a colander to strain the vegetables. strain something off Strain off any excess liquid.
  10. Idioms
    strain at the leash (informal)
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    to want to do something very much Like all youngsters, he's straining at the leash to leave home.
    strain every nerve/sinew (to do something) (formal)
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    to try as hard as you can to do something He strained every nerve to snatch victory from defeat.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: strain