Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word


 - definitions and thesaurus

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.



The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

verb strain pronunciation in British English /streɪn/ 
Word Forms
present tense
present participlestraining
past tensestrained
past participlestrained
  1. 1
    [intransitive/transitive] to try very hard to do something
    strain to do something:

    I strained to hear what they were saying.

    strain for:

    tourists straining for a view of the tower

    strain yourself:

    I could keep up with him, without straining myself.

  2. 2
    [transitive] to make a relationship uncomfortable and not friendly

    Relations between the two nations have been strained since the war.

  3. 3
    [transitive] to injure yourself by twisting or stretching a muscle too much

    I've strained a muscle in my shoulder.

    strain your back/eyes:

    Reading in poor light can strain your eyes.

    Synonyms and related words for this sense of strain
  4. 4
    [transitive] to separate a solid from a liquid by pouring it into a strainer
    Synonyms and related words for this sense of strain
  5. 5
    [intransitive] to pull at something very hard
    strain at:

    The elephants strained at their ropes.

    Synonyms and related words for this sense of strain
    1. a.
      to push against something very hard
      strain against:

      Tommy was straining against the straps of his car seat.



web content which is specifically intended to make Facebook users click the 'Like' button associated with it

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


the possibility of Greece leaving the Eurozone …

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog