The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Strain \Strain\, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Strained; p. pr. & vb. n.
Straining.] [OF. estraindre, estreindre, F. ['e]treindre,
L. stringere to draw or bind tight; probably akin to Gr. ? a
halter, ? that which is squeezwd out, a drop, or perhaps to
E. strike. Cf. Strangle, Strike, Constrain, District,
Strait, a. Stress, Strict, Stringent.]
1. To draw with force; to extend with great effort; to
stretch; as, to strain a rope; to strain the shrouds of a
ship; to strain the cords of a musical instrument. "To
strain his fetters with a stricter care." --Dryden.
2. (Mech.) To act upon, in any way, so as to cause change of
form or volume, as forces on a beam to bend it.
3. To exert to the utmost; to ply vigorously.
Strains his young nerves. --Shak.
They strain their warbling throats
To welcome in the spring. --Dryden.
4. To stretch beyond its proper limit; to do violence to, in
the matter of intent or meaning; as, to strain the law in
order to convict an accused person.
There can be no other meaning in this expression,
however some may pretend to strain it. --Swift.
5. To injure by drawing, stretching, or the exertion of
force; as, the gale strained the timbers of the ship.
6. To injure in the muscles or joints by causing to make too
strong an effort; to harm by overexertion; to sprain; as,
to strain a horse by overloading; to strain the wrist; to
strain a muscle.
Prudes decayed about may track,
Strain their necks with looking back. --Swift.
7. To squeeze; to press closely.
Evander with a close embrace
Strained his departing friend. --Dryden.
8. To make uneasy or unnatural; to produce with apparent
effort; to force; to constrain.
He talks and plays with Fatima, but his mirth
Is forced and strained. --Denham.
The quality of mercy is not strained. --Shak.
9. To urge with importunity; to press; as, to strain a
petition or invitation.
Note, if your lady strain his entertainment. --Shak.
10. To press, or cause to pass, through a strainer, as
through a screen, a cloth, or some porous substance; to
purify, or separate from extraneous or solid matter, by
filtration; to filter; as, to strain milk through cloth.
To strain a point, to make a special effort; especially, to
do a degree of violence to some principle or to one's own
To strain courtesy, to go beyond what courtesy requires; to
insist somewhat too much upon the precedence of others; --
often used ironically. --Shak.