Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “drain”


verb [I/T]  /dreɪn/ us  
to allow or cause liquid to flow away from something: [I] Wash the lettuce in the sink and let it drain. [T] Drain the lettuce and then pat it dry with paper towels. If something drains you, it makes you very tired: [T] It drains you to work with a class of 20 four-year-olds, let me tell you.


noun [C]  /dreɪn/ us  
a pipe or channel that carries away waste water or other liquids: She spilled some sugar in the sink and washed it down the drain. Something that is a drain on you takes away a lot of your energy and makes you tired: Taking care of his sick mother was quite a drain on him. If something is a drain on your money or something else, it uses a lot of it or makes it weaker: Having two mortgages was a tremendous drain on their resources.
(Definition of drain from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of drain?
Browse related topics

You are looking at an entry to do with Emptying, but you might be interested in these topics from the Full and empty topic area:

Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Definitions of “drain” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day


When birds roost, they go somewhere to rest or sleep.

Word of the Day


Read our blog about how the English language behaves.

Learn More

New Words

Find words and meanings that have just started to be used in English, and let us know what you think of them.

Learn More