strain (v.)

c. 1300, "tie, bind, fasten, gird," from present participle stem of Old French estreindre "bind tightly, clasp, squeeze," from Latin stringere (2) "draw tight, bind tight, compress, press together," from PIE root *streig- "to stroke, rub, press" (source also of Lithuanian strėgti "congeal, freeze, become stiff;" Greek strangein "twist;" Old High German strician "mends nets;" Old English streccian "to stretch;" German stramm, Dutch stram "stiff").

From late 14c. as "tighten; make taut," also "exert oneself; overexert (a body part)," Sense of "press through a filter, put (a liquid) through a strainer" is from early 14c. (implied in strainer); that of "to stress beyond measure, carry too far, make a forced interpretation of" is from mid-15c. Related: Strained; straining.

strain (n.1)

"injury caused by straining," c. 1400, from strain (v.). The meaning "passage of music" (1570s) probably developed from a verbal sense of "to tighten" the voice, which originally was used in reference to the strings of a musical instrument (late 14c.).

strain (n.2)

"line of descent, lineage, breed, ancestry," c. 1200, from Old English strion, streon "a gain, acquisition, treasure; a begetting, procreation," from Proto-Germanic *streu-nam- "to pile up," from PIE *streu-, extended form of root *stere- "to spread."

Hence "race, stock, line" (early 14c.). Applied to animal species from c. 1600; usually involving fairly minor variations, but not distinct from breed (n.). Normal sound development would have yielded *streen, but the word was altered in late Middle English, apparently by influence of strain (n.1).

updated on January 31, 2018

Definitions of strain from WordNet
strain (n.)
(physics) deformation of a physical body under the action of applied forces;
strain (n.)
difficulty that causes worry or emotional tension; "he presided over the economy during the period of the greatest stress and danger"- R.J.Samuelson;
she endured the stresses and strains of life
Synonyms: stress
strain (n.)
a succession of notes forming a distinctive sequence;
Synonyms: tune / melody / air / melodic line / line / melodic phrase
strain (n.)
(psychology) nervousness resulting from mental stress;
the mental strain of staying alert hour after hour was too much for him
his responsibilities were a constant strain
Synonyms: mental strain / nervous strain
strain (n.)
a special variety of domesticated animals within a species;
he created a new strain of sheep
Synonyms: breed / stock
strain (n.)
(biology) a group of organisms within a species that differ in trivial ways from similar groups;
a new strain of microorganisms
Synonyms: form / variant / var.
strain (n.)
injury to a muscle (often caused by overuse); results in swelling and pain;
strain (n.)
the general meaning or substance of an utterance;
Synonyms: tenor
strain (n.)
an effortful attempt to attain a goal;
Synonyms: striving / nisus / pains
strain (n.)
an intense or violent exertion;
Synonyms: straining
strain (n.)
the act of singing;
Synonyms: song
strain (v.)
to exert much effort or energy;
straining our ears to hear
Synonyms: strive / reach
strain (v.)
test the limits of;
Synonyms: try / stress
strain (v.)
use to the utmost; exert vigorously or to full capacity;
Don't strain your mind too much
Synonyms: extend
strain (v.)
separate by passing through a sieve or other straining device to separate out coarser elements;
Synonyms: sift / sieve
strain (v.)
cause to be tense and uneasy or nervous or anxious;
Synonyms: tense / tense up
strain (v.)
become stretched or tense or taut;
the rope strained when the weight was attached
Synonyms: tense
strain (v.)
remove by passing through a filter;
Synonyms: filter / filtrate / separate out / filter out
strain (v.)
rub through a strainer or process in an electric blender;
Synonyms: puree
strain (v.)
alter the shape of (something) by stress;
Synonyms: deform / distort
Etymologies are not definitions. From, not affiliated with etymonline.