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strain verb

1 make a great effort to do sth

ADV. hard straining hard to understand | forward I strained forward to get a better view.

VERB + STRAIN have to

PREP. against The dogs were straining against the sledge. | at Several men were straining at a rope, trying to move the stalled vehicle. | for Their ears strained for any slight sound.

PHRASES strain to hear/see sth We had to strain to hear what was being said.

2 put a lot of pressure on sth

ADV. seriously, severely The dispute severely strained relations between the two countries.