strain1 [streın] n
7¦(way of saying something)¦
8 strains of something
[Sense: 1-4; Date: 1500-1600; Origin: STRAIN2]
[Sense: 5-8; Origin: Old English streon 'gain']
1.) ¦(WORRY)¦ [U and C]
worry that is caused by having to deal with a problem or work too hard over a long period of time
I couldn't look after him any more; the strain was too much for me.
Did you find the job a strain ?
the stresses and strains of police life
strain for
The trial has been a terrible strain for both of us.
strain on
It's quite a strain on me when he's drinking heavily.
put/place a strain on sb
The long working hours put a severe strain on employees.
under (a) strain
I know you've been under a lot of strain lately.
crack/collapse/buckle etc under the strain
(=become unable to deal with a problem or work)
I could see that she was beginning to crack under the strain.
2.) ¦(DIFFICULTY)¦ [U and C]
a difficulty or problem that is caused when a person, relationship, organization, or system has too much to do or too many problems to deal with
strain on
The dry summer has further increased the strain on water resources.
put/place (a) strain on sth
The flu epidemic has put a huge strain on the health service.
strain in
The attack has led to strains in the relationship between the two countries.
under (a) strain
His marriage was under strain.
break/crack/collapse etc under the strain
The party split under the strain.
3.) ¦(FORCE)¦[U]
a situation in which something is being pulled or pushed, or is holding weight, and so might break or become damaged
strain on
The strain on the cables supporting the bridge is enormous.
put/place (a) strain on sth
Some of these exercises put too much strain on the back muscles.
These four posts take the strain of the whole structure.
break/snap/collapse etc under the strain
The rope snapped under the strain.
4.) ¦(INJURY)¦ [U and C]
an injury to a muscle or part of your body that is caused by using it too much
Long hours working at a computer can cause eye strain.
The goalkeeper is still out of action with a knee strain.
a type of animal, plant, or disease
strain of
different strains of wheat
a new strain of the flu virus
6.) ¦(QUALITY)¦ [singular]
a particular quality which people have, especially one that is passed from parents to children
strain of
There's a strain of madness in his family.
7.) ¦(WAY OF SAYING SOMETHING)¦ [singular] formal
an amount of a feeling that you can see in the way someone speaks, writes, paints etc
a strain of bitterness in Young's later work
8.) strains of sth
literary the sound of music being played
We sipped wine to the strains of Beethoven.
strain 2
strain2 v
6 strain every nerve
7 be straining at the leash
8 not strain yourself
[Date: 1300-1400; : Old French; Origin: estraindre, from Latin stringere; STRINGENT]
1.) ¦(INJURE)¦ [T]
to injure a muscle or part of your body by using it too much or making it work too hard
I've strained a muscle in my leg
You'll strain your eyes trying to read in this light.
2.) ¦(EFFORT)¦ [I and T]
to try very hard to do something using all your strength or ability
strain (sth) to do sth
She was straining to keep her head above the water.
strain for
Bill choked and gasped, straining for air.
strain your ears/eyes
(=try very hard to hear or see)
I strained my ears, listening for any sound in the silence of the cave.
3.) ¦(LIQUID)¦ [T]
to separate solid things from a liquid by pouring the mixture through something with very small holes in it
She strained the pasta.
4.) ¦(DIFFICULTY)¦ [T]
to cause difficulties for something by making too much work or too many problems which it cannot deal with easily
The increased costs will certainly strain our finances.
The incident has strained relations between the two countries.
I felt that my patience was being strained to the limit .
5.) ¦(PULL/PUSH)¦ [I]
to pull hard at something or push hard against something
strain against
Buddy's huge gut strained against the buttons on his shirt.
strain at
a dog straining at its lead
6.) strain every nerve
to try as hard as possible to do something
He was straining every nerve to impress the judges.
7.) be straining at the leash
to be eager to be allowed to do something
There are 30,000 troops in the area, all straining at the leash.
8.) not strain yourself
to not work too hard or do too much physical activity
Don't strain yourself.

Dictionary of contemporary English. 2013.