Etymology
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constrain (v.)

"to exert force, physical or moral, upon, either in urging to action or restraining from it," early 14c., constreyen, from stem of Old French constreindre (Modern French contraindre) "restrain, control," from Latin constringere "to bind together, tie tightly, fetter, shackle, chain," from assimilated form of com "with, together" (see con-) + stringere "to draw tight" (see strain (v.)). Related: Constrained; constraining.

updated on March 10, 2018

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Definitions of constrain from WordNet

constrain (v.)
compel to behave in a certain way;
duty constrains one to act often contrary to one's desires or inclinations
Synonyms: enforce / impose
constrain (v.)
to close within bounds, or otherwise limit or deprive of free movement;
Synonyms: restrain / confine / hold
constrain (v.)
severely restrict in scope or extent;
Synonyms: stiffen / tighten / tighten up
Etymologies are not definitions. From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.