What is the difference between 'restraint' and 'constraint'?
Senior Member2,018
The words are almost identical in meaning. Restrain means hold back from behind, constrain means hold back by setting barriers in the way ahead. A dog on a leash is restrained, a dog in a cage is constrained. (Wordreference.com)
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Anonymous:
Thank you for your clarification. Most memorable.

Y. McLain

Huntsville, AL USA
Louise has given you a good explaination. As she explained others can restrain or constrain you, you can only restrain yourself and not constrain yourself. I had to restrain myself from eating all those delicious strawberries.
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Anonymous:
constraints are prompted by our own internal and deeply held VALUES (standards)

restraints seems to occur in 2 ways

either prompted by our own rational BELIEFS (rules) that counter our emotional feelings, urges or passions

or imposed upon by other people

it is the last "definition" that causes the confusion between the 2 words

is it the values or beliefs of another party that has prompted the imposition of restraints

constraint (being constrained) is the bipolar opposite of drive (being driven)

a person can be emotionally driven to do something or volitionally constrained from doing it

example: Jack's conscience constrained him from keeping the wallet that he found in the forest

restraint is the bipolar opposite of audacity or boldness

a person can be bold or restrained in the face of danger (or when considering rewards versus risks)

bold people quantify the potential rewards before thay quantify the potential risks

example: Jack challenged the lawyer with a boldness rarely seen in a court of law
Anonymous:
contraint = barrier.
restraint = opposing force.
If you keep that in mind it's easy to differentiate the two. If you want to do something and someone sets a restriction or a barrier that you cannot overcome then it's a constraint. Theoretically you could constrain yourself by placing barriers ahead, but fighting your own decisions in most cases means finding immediate reasons for the opposite action, which then means you're restraining yourself.
Anonymous:
AH020387 What is the difference between 'restraint' and 'constraint'?
Think of two strips of yellow police tape that you are to walk between. You are constrained as long as you walk between them. But if you turn to the side and walk into one of the strips, you are retrained from going any farther.
Anonymous:
Well, this is actually false. Wordreference did not explain this usage, but a user on wordreference did. Please be accurate in citing sources. It's not because someone says something on Facebook that one cite's facebook as the source any more than comments on a post put up by Britannica are the same as citing the encyclopedia directly.

Next, these verbs are literally identical excluding the prefixes in that they both are made up of the same root word, strain, meaning to draw tight. The con prefix only means with and the re, from French, can, like the former prefix, mean any number of things and be translated in any number of ways, for example with an English particle versus the sense of a prefix, as with con. The real difference is the usage, not the meaning. Hence, when we go to Dictionary.com (not by citing comments left by people like you and me but by citing the actual lexicographers) we see that both mean the same thing and one actually means the other, in one of its usages. So, this doesn't seem to clear up the problem then, does it? It's not that your explanation, copied from a commentor elsewhere is wrong, as intuitively it does seem just fine. Easy to remember, too, which is good. But these kinds of thing must be certain and traceable to actual authorties. According to Merriam-Webster's synonymy, ''"to restrain'' suggests holding back by force or persuasion from acting or from going to extremes<He could not restrain the dog from attacking> <restrained themselves from laughing> whereas "to constrain," from the same source, is merely"to force by imposed stricture, restriction, or limitation,

"2 : compress ; also : to clasp tightly

3 : to secure by or as if by bonds : confine ; broadly : limit

4 : to force or produce in an unnatural or strained manner <a constrained smile>

5 : to hold back by or as if by force <constraining my mind not to wander from the task — Charles Dickens>"

While you were trying to clarify the meaning between the two synonyms, you should have nonetheless better cited the source and also explained the usage more accurately. To restrain as you defined it is fine, but to constrain is simply more abstract and can mean the same thing but if to contrast the former means all other forms of stopping by force.
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