Please show some restraint in replying to this topic

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Andrew Pratt, Nov 27, 2002.

  1. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    My wife and I got to talking about the meaning of the words restraint and constraint or more specifically the differences between the two.
    According to dictionary.com the definitions for restraint is as follows.
    Restraint
    1. The act of restraining or the condition of being restrained.
    2. Loss or abridgment of freedom.
    3. An influence that inhibits or restrains; a limitation.
    4. An instrument or a means of restraining.
    5. Control or repression of feelings; constraint. [/list=1]
      and Contsraint as
      1. The threat or use of force to prevent, restrict, or dictate the action or thought of others.
      2. The state of being restricted or confined within prescribed bounds: soon tired of the constraint of military life.
      3. One that restricts, limits, or regulates; a check: ignored all moral constraints in his pursuit of success.
      4. Embarrassed reserve or reticence; awkwardness: “All constraint had vanished between the two, and they began to talk” (Edith Wharton). [/list=1]
        Both the definitions make reference to the other but I don't believe they are synonyms since you can't simply use one in place of the other but I'm haveing a hard time clarifying the differece between them.
     
  2. Sean P

    Sean P Agent

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    Restraining someone is a more active process than constraint. You may feel constrained not to drink too much during dinner for the sake of your parents, but you will be restrained after gut punching your brother for throwing rolls at you.

    Restraint is externally imposed usually, while constraint is internally imposed.


    Sean P
     
  3. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    I am constrained by my natural verbosity in providing a restrained response. [​IMG]
     
  4. Joe Szott

    Joe Szott Screenwriter

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    Constraint is a non-physical restraint, restraint is a physical constraint (I'm serious) [​IMG]
    If you threaten to beat me up if I leave a room and I don't leave it, then that is constraint. Anything that is non-physical and comes down to the individual's choice is constraint. I could leave the room even if I know I will get beat up, it is my choice.
    If you put me in the same room and put bars on the doors/windows, that is restraint. It doesn't matter what I choose to do, I am trapped in that room until you let me out. I might also be constrained (if you opened the door I still wouldn't leave), but it deosn't really matter if I can't get out on my own.
     
  5. Denward

    Denward Supporting Actor

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    I think a constraint is a boundary over which you are incapable of crossing, or the consequences of crossing it are very severe. Restraint implies that you have the ability but you choose not to use it.

    After re-reading the definitions you provided, I'm not sure my usage is exactly correct, but that's how I think about those words.

    Now that I think about it, a restraint is also what they call the straps they use to tie you in a chair when you have to be controlled.

    I'll stop here before I babble more...
     
  6. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    But that's just it I figured it was a physical issue as well but we came up with examples where we'd use the opposite word in both situations so that didn't seem to hold up well. For example if restraint was a physical issue why is it you can say you showed restraint in now you handled yourself in that discussion.

    I ended up thinking it was something similar to denwards first theory of

    "I think a constraint is a boundary over which you are incapable of crossing, or the consequences of crossing it are very severe. Restraint implies that you have the ability but you choose not to use it. "
     
  7. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    Cees Alons
    I think the original to restrain is related to steering a horse (or horses). So it's the act of pulling the reins, of "holding your horses". It has a reference to a certain pace, or specific direction you want to go or a path you were running on - or intending to run. It puts brakes on a move forward.

    The word constraints contains "con" (= com), which is related to "surrounded", "together", "all around". It denotes a limitation in all directions. Thus it is more general (less specific) than a restraint. And less referring to an act of someone (something) else.

    My 2c.

    Cees
     
  8. Mike Voigt

    Mike Voigt Supporting Actor

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    Andrew,
    the way I read it, a constraint is an outside boundary, beyond which severe restrictions occur. They are usually imposed on an entity (object, person, concept, calculation, etc.) involved, but are boundaries within (or outside of )which it is free to move. There is usually a lack of volition by said entity concerning the restrictions.
    A restraint is something directly applied and connected to the entity. E.g. a physical restraint, but also a self-imposed restraint such as the one you describe. It actively involves the entity.
    'At's the way I read it, anyway. Could be wrong [​IMG]
    Mike
     
  9. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    Makes sense Mike...I was thinking along the same lines. It makes you wonder how anyone ever manages to learn this language[​IMG]
     

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