Etymology: Middle English streen progeny, lineage, from Old English strēon gain, acquisition; akin to Old High German gistriuni gain, Latin struere to heap up — more at strew
Date: 13th century
a. lineage, ancestry
b. a group of presumed common ancestry with clear-cut physiological but usually not morphological distinctions <a high-yielding strain of winter wheat>; broadly a specified infraspecific group (as a stock, line, or ecotype) c. kind, sort <discussions of a lofty strain> 2. a. inherited or inherent character, quality, or disposition <a strain of madness in the family> b. trace, streak <a strain of fanaticism> 3. a. tune, air b. a passage of verbal or musical expression c. a stream or outburst of forceful or impassioned speech 4. a. the tenor, pervading note, burden, or tone of an utterance or of a course of action or conduct b. mood, temper II. verb Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French estreindre, from Latin stringere to bind or draw tight, press together; akin to Greek strang-, stranx drop squeezed out, strangalē halter Date: 14th century transitive verb 1. a. to draw tight ; cause to fit firmly <strain the bandage over the wound> b. to stretch to maximum extension and tautness <strain a canvas over a frame> 2. a. to exert (as oneself) to the utmost b. to injure by overuse, misuse, or excessive pressure <strained his back> c. to cause a change of form or size in (a body) by application of external force 3. to squeeze or clasp tightly: as a. hug b. to compress painfully ; constrict 4. a. to cause to pass through a strainer ; filter b. to remove by straining <strain lumps out of the gravy> 5. to stretch beyond a proper limit <that story strains my credulity> 6. obsolete to squeeze out ; extort intransitive verb 1. a. to make violent efforts ; strive <has to strain to reach the high notes> b. to pull against resistance <a dog straining at its leash> c. to contract the muscles forcefully in attempting to defecate — often used in the phrase strain at stool 2. to pass through or as if through a strainer <the liquid strains readily> 3. to make great difficulty or resistance ; balk III. noun Date: 1558 1. an act of straining or the condition of being strained: as a. bodily injury from excessive tension, effort, or use <heart strain>; especially one resulting from a wrench or twist and involving undue stretching of muscles or ligaments <back strain> b. excessive or difficult exertion or labor c. excessive physical or mental tension; also a force, influence, or factor causing such tension <a strain on the marriage> d. deformation of a material body under the action of applied forces 2. an unusual reach, degree, or intensity ; pitch 3. archaic a strained interpretation of something said or written
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.