GC: n

S: WHO – (last access: 20 September 2015); WebMD – (last access: 20 September 2015).

N: 1. 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.
2. Pain, a complex experience consisting of a physiological and a psychological response to a noxious stimulus. Pain is a warning mechanism that protects an organism by influencing it to withdraw from harmful stimuli; it is primarily associated with injury or the threat of injury.
3. Pain is subjective and difficult to quantify, because it has both an affective and a sensory component. Although the neuroanatomic basis of pain reception develops before birth, individual pain responses are learned in early childhood and are affected by social, cultural, psychological, cognitive, and genetic factors, among others.
4. Collocations:
– Physical pain:

  • ‘Adj’.: acute, agonizing, awful, excruciating, extreme, great, intense, severe, sharp, terrible, unbearable | burning, searing, shooting, stabbing, throbbing | dull, little, slight | chronic, constant, nagging, persistent | sudden | intermittent | physical | abdominal, back, chest, leg, muscle, shoulder, stomach | growing, labour, period.
  • Quant. spasm, stab.
  • Verb + pain: be in, be racked with, experience, feel, get, go through, have, suffer (from) | cause, give sb, inflict | increase, make worse | alleviate, control, deaden, do something for, dull, ease, help, kill, relieve, stop | bear, endure, put up with, stand, take | cry out in, cry with, groan with, scream with | be contorted with, contort in.
  • pain + verb: begin, come | shoot through/up | grow stronger, increase, intensify | disappear, go, stop, wear off | come back, return.
  • pain + noun: control, relief | threshold.
  • prep.: ~ in a pain in her side.
  • Phrases: aches and pains Eucalyptus oil is good for easing muscular aches and pains. | a cry of pain, a threshold for/of pain I have a very low threshold for pain.

– Unhappyness:

  • Adj.: great, intense, terrible | emotional
  • Verb + pain: cause (sb), give sb, inflict | feel, go through | get over | ease | spare sb | express | conceal | bear, endure | be worth.

5. Cultural Interrelation: We can mention The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896) by H.G. Wells (1866–1946).
“In my view—in my view. For it is just this question of pain that parts us. So long as visible or audible pain turns you sick; so long as your own pains drive you; so long as pain underlies your propositions about sin,—so long, I tell you, you are an animal, thinking a little less obscurely what an animal feels. This pain—”.

S: 1. OED – (last access: 20 September 2015). 2 & 3. EncBrit – (last access: 20 September 2015). 4. OD – (last access: 9 December 2015). 5. Bartleby – (last access: 2 May 2016).


CR: afterpains, algophobia, analgesic, disease, endorphin, human suffering, morphine, sick person.