Meaning of “drain” in the English Dictionary

"drain" in English

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uk /dreɪn/ us /dreɪn/

drain verb (REMOVE LIQUID)

C2 [ I or T ] If you drain something, you remove the liquid from it, usually by pouring it away or allowing it to flow away, and if something drains, liquid flows away or out of it:

Drain the pasta thoroughly.
We drained the pond and filled it with fresh water.
Drain (off) any liquid that is left in the rice.
Don't bother drying the pans - just leave them to drain.

[ T ] If you drain a glass or cup, you drink all the liquid in it.

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drain verb (MAKE TIRED)

C2 [ T ] to make someone very tired:

The long journey completely drained me.

drain verb (REDUCE)

C2 [ I or T ] to reduce or cause something to reduce:

The long war had drained the resources of both countries.
War drains a nation of its youth and its wealth (= uses them until they are gone).

[ I ] If the blood/colour drains from your face, or if your face drains (of blood/colour), you turn very pale, often because you are shocked or ill:

The colour drained from his face/cheeks when they told him the results.

Phrasal verb(s)


uk /dreɪn/ us /dreɪn/

drain noun (PIPE)

C2 [ C ] a pipe or channel that is used to carry away waste matter and water from a building, or an opening in the road that rain water can flow down:

I think the kitchen drain is blocked.
She accidentally dropped her ring down a drain in the road.
drains [ plural ] UK

the system of pipes, openings in the ground, or other devices that are used for carrying away waste matter and water:

There was an unpleasant smell coming from the drains.

[ C ] US UK plughole a hole in a bath, sink, etc. through which water flows away and into which you can put a plug

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drain noun (MAKE TIRED)

[ S ] something that makes you feel very tired:

I think taking care of her elderly mother is a big drain on her energy.

(Definition of “drain” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"drain" in American English

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drainverb [ I/T ]

us /dreɪn/

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.

drainnoun [ C ]

us /dreɪn/

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)

"drain" in Business English

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drainnoun [ C, usually singular ]

uk /dreɪn/ us

something that uses too much of your energy, money, or time:

Having a big mortgage is a real drain on your earnings.
Unexpected repairs to the building have been a huge drain on our financial resources.
The company's pension liability has become a cash drain.
down the drain informal

completely wasted or spoiled:

When the project was scrapped, all our efforts went down the drain.
People feel that renting property is money down the drain.

See also


uk /dreɪn/ us

[ T ] to reduce or remove a large amount of something:

drain sth from sth The government is enforcing a deal that allows it to drain billions from miners' pension schemes.
drain reserves/resources They took on work that was not profitable, draining cash resources.

[ I ] to disappear gradually:

How can we make sure business does not drain out of the country?
The riches lured in too much competition and profits are now beginning to drain away.

(Definition of “drain” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)