Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
strain a point
To expand something beyond its normal limits or interpretation; to treat something flexibly. The principal will strain a point for any student she actually likes, but me? I get detention whenever I do the slightest thing wrong!
strain at the leash
To try to take action, especially when faced with obstacles. The phrase alludes to a dog pulling at its leash because it wants to walk at a different pace or in a different direction than its owner. Ever since she got her driver's license, my daughter has been straining at the leash for more freedom.
crack under the strain
To submit to the stress of a particular situation; to stop functioning due to the pressure. If you keep pushing your employees so hard, they'll eventually crack under the strain.
strain every nerve
To expend a maximum amount of effort to do something. I strained every nerve to reach that book on the top shelf, and I still couldn't get it.
don't strain yourself
Don't inconvenience or trouble yourself to do something. Usually used sarcastically. The phone is right next to you, but don't strain yourself—I'll answer it.
strain at a gnat
To exaggerate or put too much focus on a minor issue and make it seem like a major one. You got one B and you're acting like you're failing the class. You're straining at a gnat, if you ask me. This is just a minor setback, so let's not strain at a gnat.
strain at (something)
To exert the utmost force against some kind of resistance or barrier. The bank president complained that they had been straining at the restrictive regulations, but consumer advocates pointed out that it had led to a massive nationwide reduction in personal debt. The startled cattle strained at the gates until they eventually burst through and began stampeding through the farm.
strain at (one's) stool
To be constipated; to be unable or find it difficult to defecate. You mentioned that you've been straining at your stool lately. I'm going to prescribe a mild laxative for now, but you really ought to be eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
To use a filter in order to extract or remove solids from a liquid or gas. Can be used in reference to either the solid or liquid in a sentence. A noun or pronoun can be used between "strain" and "off." Strain most of the water off from the pasta, leaving a little bit in the pot to mix with your sauce. Strain off the fat from the top of the soup and then return the mixture to a boil.
To use a filter in order to extract or remove solids from a liquid or gas. Can be used in reference to either the solid or liquid in a sentence. A noun or pronoun can be used between "strain" and "out." Strain most of the water out from the pasta, leaving a little bit in the pot to mix with your sauce. Strain out the fat from the top of the soup and then return the mixture to a boil.
place a strain on (someone or something)
To place an undue or overwhelming burden on someone's or something's resources or ability to cope. I know my brother's illness really placed a strain on our parents. The financial crisis placed a huge strain on the Department of Social Welfare in particular.
put a strain on (someone or something)
To place an undue or overwhelming burden on someone's or something's resources or ability to cope. I know my brother's illness has really been putting a strain on our parents. The financial crisis placed a huge strain on the Department of Social Welfare in particular.
crack under the strain
Fig. to have a mental or emotional collapse because of continued work or stress. He worked 80-hour weeks for a month and finally cracked under the strain.
place a strain on someone or something
1. Lit. to burden and nearly overwhelm someone or something. The weight of all the trucks placed a strain on the bridge.
2. Fig. to tax the resources or strength of someone, a group, or something to the utmost. All of the trouble at work placed a strain on Kelly. The recession placed a strain on the economy.
put a strain on someone or something
to burden or overload someone or something. All this bad economic news puts a strain on everyone's nerves. The epidemic put a strain on the resources of the hospital.
strain after something
[for a singer] to work very hard to reach a very high or a very low note. Don't strain after the note. Let it come naturally, like a cooling breeze. She was straining after each note as if it hurt her to sing, which it probably did.
strain at gnats and swallow camels
Prov. to criticize other people for minor offenses while ignoring major offenses. (Biblical.) Jill: Look at that. Edward is combing his hair at his desk. How unprofessional. Jane: Don't strain at gnats and swallow camels. There are worse problems than that around here.
strain at the leash
1. Lit. [for a dog] to pull very hard on its leash. It's hard to walk Fido, because he is always straining at the leash. I wish that this dog would not strain at the leash. It's very hard on me.
2. Fig. [for a person] to want to move ahead with things, aggressively and independently. She wants to fix things right away. She is straining at the leash to get started. Paul is straining at the leash to get on the job.
strain away (at something)
to work very hard, continuously, at doing something. She strained away at her weights, getting stronger every day. She was straining away on the rowing machine when we came in.
strain for an effect
to work very hard to try to achieve some effect. The actors were straining so hard for an effect that they forgot their lines. Don't strain for effect so much. The authors of this drama knew what they were doing, and it's in the lines already.
strain something off of somethingand strain something off
to remove the excess or unwanted liquid from something. The cook strained the grease off the cooking juices. The cook strained off the grease.
strain something through something
to filter a liquid or a watery substance by pouring it through something. Tony strained the strawberry jelly through cheesecloth. We will have to strain the clabber to take out the curds.
strain at a gnatLITERARY
If someone strains at a gnat, they concern themselves with something small and unimportant, sometimes failing to deal with something much more important. People worry over tiny differences in the fat content of food while eating huge quantities of sugar. It's a classic case of straining at a gnat. Note: You can also say that someone strains at a gnat and swallows a camel, with the same meaning. One must be wary of straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel. Note: This expression comes from the Bible. Jesus used it when criticizing the scribes and the Pharisees for being too concerned with unimportant areas of the Jewish law. (Matthew 23:24)
be straining at the leash
If someone is straining at the leash, they are very eager to do things. Note: A `leash' is a long thin piece of leather or chain, which you attach to a dog's collar so that you can keep the dog under control. The players all know that there are plenty of youngsters straining at the leash to take their places if they don't perform.
strain every nervemake every possible effort.
Nerve is used here in an earlier sense of ‘tendon or sinew’.
don't strain yourselfused sarcastically to accuse a person of laziness or dilatoriness. informal
strain at a gnatmake a difficulty about accepting something trivial. literary
The phrase derives from Matthew 23:24, ‘Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel’. The word strain here appears to mean ‘make a violent effort’, but it may in fact refer to the straining of a liquid to remove unwanted particles: the image is of a person quietly accepting a difficulty or problem of significant proportions while baulking at something comparatively trivial.
strain at the leashbe eager to begin or do something.
strain at the ˈleash(informal) want to be free from control; want to do something very much: Why don’t you let her leave home? Can’t you see she’s straining at the leash? ♢ He’s straining at the leash to leave Britain for somewhere sunnier.
A leash is a long piece of leather, chain or rope used for holding and controlling a dog.
strain every ˈnerve/ˈsinew (to do something)(written) try as hard as you can (to do something): He strained every sinew to help us, but didn’t succeed.
To pull or push on something, trying to make it yield or give way: The dog barked viciously and strained at its leash. The angry crowd strained at the barriers.
To separate some liquid from a solid by filtration: After boiling the rice, I strained off the excess water in the pot. The chemist strained the water off from the top of the solution in the beaker.
To separate some solid from a liquid by filtration: The cook strained out the noodles from the broth. There was some sediment in the concoction, but the chemist strained it out.
strain every nerve
To make every effort.
strain at stool
To have difficulty defecating.