I would like to express, in one word, the tendency to concentrate excessively rather than disperse. This is applied in a sentence where I describe a set of data, which has too much focus on one aspect and miss out on other aspects.

For this I use the word "constringences".

The results collected and presented earlier are limited by ambiguities, paradoxes and constringences.

However, it seems some dictionaries do not know constringence, while others do. So is it a word or isn't it?

  • Thanks for answers so far. + how does constringence differ from constriction? Should I not used the latter in my case? Dec 7, 2011 at 11:28
  • Assuming the fault is with the data collector rather than the data themselves, I would use a different word entirely: myopia.
    – user13141
    Dec 7, 2011 at 12:03
  • I think you could just use the word focus instead, but it would be best then to change the other words to singular also.
    – Julia
    Dec 8, 2011 at 3:28
  • 1
    @Julia: yes, focus is good. But that would rather be "excessive focus" in this case. As kiamlaluno said, constringence belongs to a specific technical context. So for now I used constriction instead. Dec 8, 2011 at 10:53

3 Answers 3


Out of five dictionaries I can consult, only the Collins English Dictionary reports that word.

[physics] inverse of the dispersive
power of a medium

I would say it's a word, but it is used in a specific, technical context.

  • Cheers :) I've then used "constriction" instead, although I'm not very happy with the word either. Dec 8, 2011 at 10:55

The OED says the noun from constringent is constringency. On the other hand, your specialised sense doesn't really fit, as constringent there means 'causing constriction'.

I don't think it's a normal word, but there's no reason not to use it as a specialised term, as long you define it at the first use.

  • 1
    I wasn't familiar with the term, so if I did come across it, I'd appreciate a definition at first use, as you advise. But on checking, it seems to be a standard term in physics/optics for the Abbe/V-number (again, not previously known to me), so I suppose if you were writing in that context you could assume your readers should know the word. Anyway, as you say, it doesn't really seem to fit OP's context. I think he'd do better to use a more common word such as constraints. Dec 7, 2011 at 14:23

Yes, it's a word. It doesn't have to be in every dictionary for it to be considered a word. Here's one entry from Dictionary.com (using Collins English Dictionary as its source):

constringence (kənˈstrɪndʒəns)
— n
physics inverse of the dispersive power of a medium

It's also defined in TheFreeDictionary, and in Wikipedia and Britannica encyclopaedias with a very specific meaning with optics.

None of these suggest a metaphoric dispersion of data. Therefore I'd hesitate in using the term with anything but these exact meanings, and only for audiences who can be expected to know the term.

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