1 severe demand on strength, resources, etc.
considerable, enormous, great, heavy, real, severe, terrible, tremendous

It's a real strain having to get up so early!

excessive, intolerable (esp. BrE), unbearable, undue
emotional, financial, mental, nervous, physical, psychological

The mental strain of sharing an office with Alison was starting to show.

be under, come under, feel, suffer, suffer from

Television newsreaders come under enormous strain.

After weeks of overtime, she was starting to feel the strain.

cause, create, impose, place, put

Increasing demand is placing undue strain on services.

ease, reduce
cope with, stand, take
show, take its toll (on sb), tell (on sb) (BrE)

After weeks of uncertainty, the strain was beginning to take its toll.

under the strain

The ice gave way under the strain.

He broke down under the strain of having to work twelve hours a day.

strain on

Losing the business put a strain on their relationship.

a bit of a strain

I found it a bit of a strain making conversation with her.

signs of strain

After three years, their marriage was beginning to show signs of strain.

stresses and strains

the stresses and strains of a long day

take the strain off sb, take the strain out of sth

The Internet takes the strain out of shopping.

2 injury
back, eye (esp. BrE), muscle, thigh, etc.
be suffering from, have

You'll get eye strain if you don't put the light on.

recover from, shake off (BrE)

Gerrard will play if he can shake off a slight thigh strain.

3 type of virus or bacteria
antibiotic-resistant, drug-resistant, resistant
bacterial, viral
flu, influenza
discover, identify
analyse/analyze, examine, test
strain of

H5N1 is a strain of avian influenza.

1 make a great effort to do sth

You could see he was straining hard to understand.


I strained forward to get a better view.

have to

The dogs were straining against the sled.


Several men were straining at a rope, trying to move the stalled vehicle.


Their ears strained for any slight sound.

under (often figurative)

The company is already straining under the weight of a $12 billion debt.

strain to hear sth, strain to see sth

We had to strain to hear what was being said.

2 put a lot of pressure on sth
seriously, severely

The dispute severely strained relations between the two countries.

strain sth to breaking point (BrE), strain sth to the breaking point (AmE)

Our public health laboratories are strained to (the) breaking point.

strain sth to its limits, strain sth to the limit
Strain is used with these nouns as the subject: ↑ear, ↑eye, ↑muscle
Strain is used with these nouns as the object: ↑budget, ↑credulity, ↑ear, ↑eye, ↑finance, ↑juice, ↑ligament, ↑liquid, ↑mixture, ↑muscle, ↑neck, ↑nerve, ↑patience, ↑resource, ↑spaghetti, ↑voice

Collocations dictionary. 2013.

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