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



    BrE BrE//kənˈstreɪnt//
    ; NAmE NAmE//kənˈstreɪnt//
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  1. 1[countable] a thing that limits or restricts something, or your freedom to do something synonym restriction constraints of time/money/space financial/economic/legal/political constraints constraint on something This decision will impose serious constraints on all schools. Synonymslimitrestriction control constraint restraint limitationThese are all words for something that limits what you can do or what can happen.limit the greatest or smallest amount of something that is allowed:The EU has set strict limits on pollution levels. the speed limitrestriction (rather formal) a rule or law that limits what you can do:There are no restrictions on the amount of money you can withdraw.control (often in compounds) the act of limiting or managing something; a method of doing this:arms controlconstraint (rather formal) a fact or decision that limits what you can do:We have to work within severe constraints of time and money.restraint (rather formal) a decision, a rule, an idea, etc. that limits what you can do; the act of limiting something because it is necessary or sensible to do so:The government has imposed export restraints on some products. The unions are unlikely to accept any sort of wage restraint.limitation the act or process of limiting something; a rule, fact or condition that limits something:They would resist any limitation of their powers.restriction, constraint, restraint or limitation? These are all things that limit what you can do. A restriction is rule or law that is made by somebody in authority. A constraint is something that exists rather than something that is made, although it may exist as a result of somebody’s decision. A restraint is also something that exists: it can exist outside yourself, as the result of somebody else’s decision; but it can also exist inside you, as a fear of what other people may think or as your own feeling about what is acceptable:moral/​social/​cultural restraints. A limitation is more general and can be a rule that somebody makes or a fact or condition that exists.Patterns limits/​restrictions/​controls/​constraints/​restraints/​limitations on something limits/​limitations to something severe limits/​restrictions/​controls/​constraints/​restraints/​limitations tight limits/​restrictions/​controls/​constraints to impose/​remove limits/​restrictions/​controls/​constraints/​restraints/​limitations to lift restrictions/​controls/​constraints/​restraints
  2. 2[uncountable] strict control over the way that you behave or are allowed to behave At last we could relax and talk without constraint.
  3. Word Originlate Middle English (in the sense ‘coercion’): from Old French constreinte, feminine past participle of constraindre, from Latin constringere ‘bind tightly together’.Extra examples The government has placed tight constraints on spending this year. There are major financial constraints on all schools. We have to work within severe constraints. This decision will impose serious financial constraints on all schools. We are severely limited by legal and political constraints.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: constraint