under pain of

under pain of


  1. physical suffering or distress, as due to injury, illness, etc.
  2. a distressing sensation in a particular part of the body: a back pain.
  3. mental or emotional suffering or torment: I am sorry my news causes you such pain.
  4. pains,
    1. laborious or careful efforts; assiduous care: Great pains have been taken to repair the engine perfectly.
    2. the suffering of childbirth.
  5. Informal. an annoying or troublesome person or thing.

verb (used with object)

  1. to cause physical pain to; hurt.
  2. to cause (someone) mental or emotional pain; distress: Your sarcasm pained me.

verb (used without object)

  1. to have or give pain.


  1. feel no pain, Informal. to be intoxicated: After all that free beer, we were feeling no pain.
  2. on/upon/under pain of, liable to the penalty of: on pain of death.
  3. pain in the ass, Slang: Vulgar. pain(def 5).
  4. pain in the neck, Informal. pain(def 5).


  1. the sensation of acute physical hurt or discomfort caused by injury, illness, etc
  2. emotional suffering or mental distress
  3. on pain of subject to the penalty of
  4. Also called: pain in the neck, (taboo) pain in the arse informal a person or thing that is a nuisance

verb (tr)

  1. to cause (a person) distress, hurt, grief, anxiety, etc
  2. informal to annoy; irritate

n.late 13c., “punishment,” especially for a crime; also “condition one feels when hurt, opposite of pleasure,” from Old French peine “difficulty, woe, suffering, punishment, Hell’s torments” (11c.), from Latin poena “punishment, penalty, retribution, indemnification” (in Late Latin also “torment, hardship, suffering”), from Greek poine “retribution, penalty, quit-money for spilled blood,” from PIE *kwei- “to pay, atone, compensate” (see penal). The earliest sense in English survives in phrase on pain of death. Phrase to give (someone) a pain “be annoying and irritating” is from 1908; localized as pain in the neck (1924) and pain in the ass (1934), though this last might have gone long unrecorded and be the original sense and the others euphemisms. Pains “great care taken (for some purpose)” is first recorded 1520s (in the singular in this sense, it is attested from c.1300). First record of pain-killer is from 1853. v.c.1300, “to exert or strain oneself, strive; endeavor,” from Old French pener (v.) “to hurt, cause pain,” from peine, and from Middle English peine (n.); see pain (n.). Transitive meaning “cause pain; inflict pain” is from late 14c. That of “to cause sorrow, grief, or unhappiness” also is from late 14c. Related: Pained; paining. n.

  1. An unpleasant sensation occurring in varying degrees of severity as a consequence of injury, disease, or emotional disorder.
  2. One of the uterine contractions occurring in childbirth.

see on pain of. In addition to the idioms beginning with pain

  • pain in the neck
  • also see:

  • at pains
  • feel no pain
  • for one’s pains
  • growing pains
  • no pain, no gain
  • on pain of
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